- Title: HUNGARY: Shabby pubs are now hip in Budapest
- Date: 3rd September 2007
- Summary: EXTERIOR OF CORVIN DEPARTMENT STORE WHERE THE LATEST SHABBY PUB IS LOCATED ON THE ROOF
- Embargoed: 18th September 2007 13:00
- Location: Hungary
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA6GNY4ATCLGHIMOYJU7VPDR5ER
- Story Text: Old, run-down buildings with basic interiors have become popular venues for trendy Hungarians and tourists seeking alternatives to the usual city bars.
The old Jewish district of Budapest is experiencing several new rallies of life, and one of them is the phenomenon of trendy courtyard pubs in run-down buildings.
Many of these old, shabby, buildings in the Jewish district were commissioned for demolition. But some adventurous pub owners saw an opportunity, setting up shop in the courtyard with little sign of what was hidden behind the building's crumbling facade.
From the street people are often greeted with graffiti-covered doors, and it is easy to miss the unlikely entrances which conceals pubs in typical Budapest courtyards.
The first of these half-hidden courtyard pubs was Szimpla Garden which opened in the summer of 2002. In Hungarian, "Szimpla" means both simple and a single portion coffee.
Szimpla Garden is a mixture of bar, beer-garden, and outdoor screening house, and has become an alternative cultural mecca.
Located in a the courtyard of an apartment building which has yet to be renovated, Szimpla Garden mixes junkyard aesthetic with modern comforts such as wi-fi, live music and regular indie film screenings. The decoration is deliberately simple with ramshackle antique furniture.
"These are actually nice old houses, especially our first venue was one of the oldest buildings in the district. Obviously, one has a certain degree of humbleness towards the building, plus it's, in itself, so impressive that we don't need to add too much. So we thought we should only add as little as necessary to make it function as a community space," co-owner of Szimpla Garden, Attila Kiss said.
The combination of the unpretentious surroundings of the open-air courtyards and the dimly lit underground rooms packed with sofas, has created an atmosphere that has become a success among locals, tourists and expatriates.
"I grew up in a building similar to this courtyard, and I think all urban dwellers feel a kind of extra atmosphere here. It's not like drinking in a bar or restaurant, it's not like drinking in the street illegally, but in a place where one can really relax," pub guest, Andras Pardi said.
"For a space like this, for this run-down brick wall, one cannot really fit any other type of furniture. But this fits well and it seems to work because the young people like it. This is a kind of alternative place," another pub guest, Gabor Bela Szabo said.
"I like the atmosphere, it reminds me of Paris. You see the little courtyard we have and little cafes, and I like this, it's like the, an underground cafe or something," said Julie Boisseau from France.
The latest addition to Budapest's shabby pubs is the Corvinteto, meaning "Corvin roof". The pub is located on the top of a popular communist-era department store formerly called the Corvin and is the first shabby pub with a panorama view of the city.
"There are no artificial decorations here, it's simple and thus more informal," guest at the Corvinteto, Eszter Vojczek said.
The recipe of Corvinteto's success echoes Vojczek's observation. It follows the formula of the other shabby pubs with an interesting location, minimal decoration, simple furniture, and a dash of retro feel.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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