Famous Vienna hotel turns to drive-in cake

Famous Vienna hotel turns to drive-in cake
Concierge Uwe Kotzendorfer keeps the proud traditions of Vienna alive, selling Sacher Torte from his two-wheel cart outside the Hotel Sacher. (AFP)
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Updated 29 November 2020

Famous Vienna hotel turns to drive-in cake

Famous Vienna hotel turns to drive-in cake
  • The vast majority of the Sacher’s staff are now on government-subsidised furlough

VIENNA: The pandemic may have forced many of Vienna’s luxury hotels to close indefinitely as global travel restrictions keep away the millions of tourists who usually visit the Austrian capital every year.

But the Hotel Sacher is determined not to let fans of its world-famous chocolate cake go hungry.

The hotel’s concierge, Uwe Kotzendorfer, is selling “Sacher Torte,” as the rich delicacy is known, on a drive-in stand just across the road from Vienna’s prestigious State Opera house.

“I do a bit of everything now,” says Kotzendorfer, standing next to a small two-wheel cart stacked high with cakes, as he hands an imperial red bag containing one of them to a customer driving past in his BMW.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” says  customer Claudia Bednar. “Because we can no longer travel, I am going to send one to my aunt in Germany for her 65th wedding anniversary,” she explains, then pays for the cake, which typically costs between €50 and €60 ($60 to $71), with her credit card.

The vast majority of the Sacher’s staff are now on government-subsidised furlough.

And the rooms and dining halls in the six neoclassical buildings — decorated with autographed images of previous guests such as Britain’s Prince Charles, Franco-German film star Romy Schneider and US opera singer Jessye Norman — are deserted.

Nevertheless, the hotel insists on displaying fresh flower arrangements in honor of the five business travelers staying there.

For those parts of the hotel not currently occupied, the management is taking the opportunity to carry out some much-needed maintenance, and Kotzendorfer often guides workmen around the deserted swathes of the building. 




Sacher Torte was invented in 1832 by pastry chef Franz Sacher. (AFP)

According to owner and managing director Matthias Winkler, the Sacher is the last five-star hotel in Vienna that is still in family hands.

But it has survived a number of existential crises in the past and during the global economic crisis in 1934 even went bankrupt.

“We’ve gone through many trials since the creation of the brand and our family is still planning for the long term,” said Winkler, who took over the hotel from his mother-in-law in 2015.

The current virus-induced economic downturn is taking a heavy toll. International travelers typically account for more than 90 percent of the hotel’s annual 23,000 overnight stays, with rooms costing anything between €400 and €2,300 ($480-$2,700) per night in the low season.

However, with the virus lockdowns, that source of income has now been all but wiped out.

Sacher’s cakes, which are shipped and sold across the world, are helping keep the brand alive.

The Hotel Sacher and the Sacher Torte have a long history.

In 1832, a young pastry chef called Franz Sacher was working on a new recipe he hoped would become all the rage at the Habsburg’s imperial court.

The ingredients were whipped cream, a lot of cocoa, jam to add moisture, and a rich layer of chocolate frosting.

Forty-four years later, Sacher’s son, Eduard, opened the hotel in Vienna’s first district. 

The city’s high society normally gathers for a dinner in the Sacher before the famous Opera Ball — but this year’s event has fallen victim to the pandemic.


UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 23 January 2021

UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum signs Red Sea oil exploration deal with Egypt

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent

CAIRO: The UAE’s Mubadala Petroleum Company has signed an agreement with Egypt to explore for oil and gas in the Red Sea.

The agreement, signed by Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla, allows the company to explore in a 3,084 square kilometer area of the Red Sea and was a result of a bidding round in 2019.

It will own 27 percent of the stake as part of the agreement, while Shell will own 63 percent. Egypt’s Tharwa Petroleum Company owns the remaining 10 percent.

The agreement refers to an area known as Sector 4, located in the north of the Red Sea in an area adjacent to the Gulf of Suez Basin, which is rich in natural resources. 

Parties will commit to conducting exploration studies in this sector and collecting seismic data for the area, using three-dimensional techniques, during the first three years of the exploration phase.

“The addition of Sector 4 in the Red Sea represents a new extension of our operations in Egypt, while providing a valuable opportunity to expand our activities, and by working with a strategic partner such as Shell,” said Mubadala Petroleum CEO Bakheet Al Katheeri. “The search and exploration operations in this sector, if successful, will support our strategy of extracting and manufacturing hydrocarbons, in order to contribute to supporting the stability and expansion of the Egyptian market, while providing growth opportunities for our operations in the country.”

Mubadala Petroleum owns a 10 percent stake in the offshore Shurooq gas field concession that includes the Zohr natural gas field, in addition to 20 percent in the concession area of Noor Gas Company. Both are located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt.