Franz Landtmann did not plan to open just any old coffee house: it was to be the most elegant in the city. When he unlocked the doors on 1 October 1873, Landtmann demonstrated his pioneering spirit – with nothing but construction sites all around the new establishment. The splendour of the Ringstraße was nowhere to be seen; there was no Burgtheater next door; the Rathaus and the University were only just being built. But the residents of Vienna were thrilled, and Café Landtmann was a hit.
Brothers Wilhelm and Rudolf Kerl bought the Café and continued to run it under the Landtmann name. Rudolf Kerl, however, soon withdrew from the world of business. After an impressive 35 years, Wilhelm sold the Café to the butcher and innkeeper Karl Kraus (no connection to Karl Kraus the writer).
Karl Anton Kraus ran the coffee house for just five years, since from 1921 it belonged to a company known as "Hotel‐, Kaffee‐ und Restaurations‐Betriebe Ges.m.b.H." (Hotel, Café and Restaurant Businesses PLC). It was soon sold to Konrad and Angela Zauner, which proved to be a fortuitous turn of events.
Three years after it changed hands, the coffee house was completely renovated by Konrad and Angela Zauner in 1929 – an essential undertaking. The famed architect Professor Ernst Meller designed the interior, which has survived to this day and is now under a preservation order. And so the Landtmann consolidated its position as the finest coffee house in Vienna. After the Second World War, Konrad Zauner's son Erwin took the helm in 1949 and continued to run it with great success. However, when the Zauner family first tried to sell in the 1970s, Café Landtmann slid into danger for the first time. Like a number of other venerable Ringstraße cafés before it, the Landtmann was about to make way for a bank branch.
Herbert and Anita Querfeld fell in love with the Landtmann and were able to save it from its fate with the support of former Councillor of Cultural Affairs Helmut Zilk. They knew that the infrastructure and fittings of the now heritage-protected coffee house no longer met modern requirements. And so with a great deal of love, effort and considerable financial funding in 1982, the coffee house was completely renovated in order to safeguard its future. In 1988, Berndt Querfeld joined his parents' business and together they perfected the so-called "Landtmann style", which embodies classic Viennese coffee house culture. The number of employees grew from 13 in 1976 to 90. Today, the Landtmann is run by Anita and Berndt Querfeld. Their most pressing concern is to preserve "Vienna's most elegant Café" for the future – but as a lively meeting place with a modern conservatory and terrace, not as a museum-like culinary establishment. The Querfeld family continues to write the history of the Landtmann with the utmost dedication and optimism.
Then please read our "Illustrated special edition of the Landtmann", first published to honour its 125th anniversary in 1998. We celebrated our 140-year anniversary in October 2013 with the new "Landtmann Magazine". Happy reading!