IN PICTURES: The Vienna coffee shop where phone-less visitors get a discount

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected] • 2 Apr, 2022 Updated Sat 2 Apr 2022 09:15 CEST
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Austria's Vollpension cafe offers the freedom only a phone in a cage can offer. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Want a brief digital detox? This Austrian cafe employs pensioners that bake delicious cakes and offers breakfast, all with a 10 percent discount if you keep your phone locked away

The idea of enjoying the moment without distractions is a popular one, though not easy to achieve, especially with smartphones and screens surrounding us at all times.

To help people return to the days when a good cup of coffee and a delicious piece of pie could be savoured while talking with friends, Vienna's Vollpension cafe has introduced quite the incentive: a 10 percent discount for those who lock their smartphones in aesthetic tiny cages and vaults during their stay.

"It is completely optional!" the waitress, one of the senior citizens that work in the shop, assures me. 

READ MORE: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

'Grandma's public living room'

Vollpension is already a well-known establishment in Vienna. The cafe is famous for its cosiness, living room-style decorations but, most of all, their employees.

Breakfasts and pies are prepared and baked by senior citizens, the "grandmas" (Omas, in German) and "grandpas" (Opas), who also serve the dishes and receive the guests. 

The name itself is a play on the cafe's concept: Vollpension, or "full pension", in German, refers to the kind of hotel stay that includes meals and the pension that Austrians receive from the government when they retire. 

The cafe calls itself "grandma's public living room". It aims to bridge the generation gap by mixing old and new together in one place. According to its website, the company employs 80 people; the youngest is 20 years old while the oldest is 84. 

One of the goals is to avoid the loneliness that many elderly people feel in big cities. Those who visit Vollpension, especially during those busy weekend mornings, can vouch that loneliness will not be an issue there.

Phones locked in cages at Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Phones locked in cages at Austria's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

Enjoying time

The philosophy of valuing time is a big one in the coffee shop. The menus are divided by time rather than by food. 

Guests can order "30min coffees" for €5.90, for example. That would include unlimited hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and cold drinks (homemade lemonade, iced tea, sparkling water with lemon). 

READ MORE: How to drink coffee like an Austrian

Breakfast combos with several options, including vegetarian and vegan options, can also be ordered based on time: 60, 90, or 120-minute breakfast. 

The playful menu, both in English and German, shows a variety of combinations. One thing is for sure, though: the pies and cakes, baked by grandmas and grandpas in the open kitchen areas, are always a hit among guests.

As they reopen after a long lockdown period and pandemic break (Vienna's 2G rules for gastronomy apply), a new tool to help patrons enjoy their time there. 

The staff tells us that the 10% promotion for those who lock their phones in cages has been a hit. It shows: the cafe, which has indoor (very popular) and outdoor seating (quite empty as temperatures are still low), was packed on Saturday.

Not a cell phone in sight. Wish I could go back (well you can). Image: Amanda Previdelli

Not a cell phone in sight. Wish I could go back? Well you can! Image: Amanda Previdelli

An early morning on Sunday guaranteed us a spot, but by 10am, the place was already filled again, with the grandmas going up and down the tight but cosy Vollpension to welcome, serve, and chat with people.

They were all warm, sweet and funny, but still business-like with their busy shifts and helpful tablets. 

READ MORE: The best spots to recharge on the weekend in Vienna

You can reserve a spot, but only half of the sitting is available for reservations, as they prefer to always be able to have people come in spontaneously.

A perfect place to enjoy Austrian Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) culture on a comfortable sofa and no screens allowed.

The vintage decor in Vienna's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli

The vintage decor in Vienna's Vollpension cafe. Image: Amanda Previdelli


Schleifmühlgasse 16

A–1040 Wien

+43 676 637 81 06 (Mo-Fr, 11am - 1pm)

Sunday-Thursday: 08am – 8pm, Fr, Sa, Holidays: 08am – 10pm

  • Some of the staff (including the seniors) speak English
  • Children are welcome
  • Dogs are welcome, are patted and get water bowls
  • Phones less welcome, but allowed
  • Several payment options

Useful vocabulary

Kuchen - cakes

Frühstück - breakfast

Heissgetränke - hot drinks

Aufstriche - spread

Ei - egg



Amanda Previdelli 2022/04/02 09:15

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