Saturday, June 9, 2012

A New Old Vienna Cafe

Old and misguided, the restaurant last year.
Old Vienna Cafe says it is under new ownership and has unveiled a new menu offering more American-style, diner-type food. The move is not surprising. Most of the times I've gone there in the year since it opened, or have walked by it, the place has looked like it was on its last legs—with barely a customer inside. And I always thought this was a huge shame, and an enormous missed opportunity. The location, right next to the Midway Theater, and with outdoor seating to boot, has the potential to be a huge draw—that is, if it was the kind of place Forest Hills and the nearby neighborhoods were looking for. A cafe offering extremely expensive Eastern-European culinary specialties was never that.

Some ideas my friends and I have had for the spot included everything from a laid-back, independent coffee shop with plush couches, newspapers spread about, etc.. to the kind of place they are now attempting—a regular restaurant offering burgers, sandwiches, etc.. Forest Hills is sorely lacking a really good place just to get that type of food. (Don't get me started on the local diners. I gave up on T-Bone long ago after the time I ordered the shrimp salad and was given a scoopful of mayonaise with celery in it and not one shrimp. The newer Forest Hills Diner way down Austin St. is better—in a pinch it will provide you sustenance. But I would hardly call it an enjoyable eat.)

So, what Old Vienna is trying is definitely a step in the right direction. But just one thing: Change your name! If you are under new ownership , have a new menu, and have even changed the decor inside to reflect your new personality, change your goddamn name! If you did that, you may stand a chance. But until you do, everyone going by is going to think you're the same, misguided, confused eating establishment. Changing everything but your name just perpetuates the confusion and probably continues the countdown to when someone else will have a go at trying to make your prime corner location a hit.


  1. crossing queens blvdJune 9, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    1) Yes, change the name. Either "The Forest Hills Cafe" or "Martha's Old Vienna Bakery".
    2) Light up the building at night or at least the sign. Colored lights shining onto the facade of a building on such a highly visible corner would draw lots of attention.
    3) Change the decor. It looks like a dining room on the Titanic. While it doesn't need to be hip and edgy, it shouldn't feel like dinner at Grandma's.

    Unfortunately, it takes a lot to change the minds of consumers once they've written a place off. A radical change can do this but a different menu hanging in the window with no real fanfare won't.

    I hope the new management is successful.

  2. What FoHi really needs is a Chinese Tex-Mex Hookah Lounge....or a good craft beer bar.

  3. I'd go for nice tapas at night and a nice brunch (think homemade jams and Diners, Dive Ins and Drives dishes) in the am. It could be done -- without competing over who can give away the most mediocre Bloody Marys per person.

  4. Too bad the old UJ's guys didn't take the spot. I miss them.