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Friday, March 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday 170; Café Odeon, Zurich;



Grand Café Odeon

In 1910  Julius Uster built a grand house on the corner of Sonnenquai, (today Limmatquai) and Rämistrasse. Incorporated into the building was a Coffee house in  Art Deco, in the style of  the Vienna coffee houses, With big windows, chandeliers, walls were decked out  in brass and reddish  marble.

On Sunday 1.July 1911 at 18:00 PM the Grand café Odeon opened its doors the first time. In the cellar operated their own “Konditorei” cake bakery.
Further up they had a Billiards room. The manager was  Josef Schottenhaml from Munich. The Odeon Café offered International papers, Lexicons and chess games were popular. There was no closing restriction, the Odeon could be open all night. In Zürich the Odeon was the first place where Champaign by the glass was served.

Writers, painters and musicians were regulars and gave the Odeon an ambience of a club  for intellectuals. Frequent visitors were Stefan Zweig,  Albert Einstein, Claire Goll, Frank Wedekind, Somerset Maugham, Erich Maria Remarque, Franz Léhar, Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Lenin, Max Frish, Friederich Dürrenmatt and many more.

A trusted person of the émigrés was the publisher Dr. Emil Oprecht who was printing and publishing the works of many writers in exile.
After the second world war, the Odeon was a meeting place for  the young generations of intellectuals.
In the beginning of the seventies the reputation of the Odeon was in disrepute because of its  neighboorhood’s  drug scene. Inside it was partly destroyed by drug rioters and had to be renovated.
Drug dealers had riots for the supremacy of the place. The Odeon was losing its good clientèle and lost more and more money.  The Odeon was made smaller and the northern entry was locked, to have a better overview and control of the place. On the 1. July 1972 the Odeon was closed and the house put under  listed buildings. After that only one third was  used again as café Odeon.





Bodega Espanola, was our haunt,at a time  when the sun did not set in the 1960s. After  a concert,  a movie or theater it was the place to eat a bowl of mussels in a spicy tomato sauce and toast our fortunate life with a glass of Spanish wine and for dessert a tiny glass of  of the sweetest sherry. Those were the days! 


©Photo/text Ts.


26 comments:

  1. Oh to have seen it in its heyday. What a pity that the opulent lifestyles of those days are gone.

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    1. Liz, Then, were many of the great thinkers in exile in Switzerland.

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  2. What a coincidence - two Odean stories in this week's Sepia Saturday. They seemed quite different though. Your Odean is much more European sounding. Too bad the drug dealers took over.
    Nancy

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    1. In the 1970s Zurich had a big problem with drugs, dealers and takers.

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  3. Love the story of the Odeon. There is something about such European cafes - an atmosphere, a grandness - that you find no where else.

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    1. Alan, that,s right, one can still find similar cafés in European cities,with a flair of days gone by.

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  4. What a shame that a fine place like the Odeon was lost because of the drug culture. It certainly had a distinguished clientele.

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    1. Now it is perhaps a third of the size it used to be, the red leather banquets, where deep thoughts or lively discussions were held are still there.

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  5. Now I am wondering where the name came from since this is the second Odeon on Sepia Saturday, and they are not even in the same country.

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    1. Odeon from the Greek word "odeion", a place where musical performances were held.
      It was used all over the world for cinemas, theatres, cabarets etc.

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  6. I had the same question as Postcardy. A sad demise for such a grand cafe.

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    1. Odeon from the Greek word "odeion", a place where musical performances were held.
      All over the world, music halls, cabarets cinemas and such were named Odeon, it was a very popular name.

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  7. I remember the old Odeon from a visit to Zürich. Not much changes.

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    1. Bill, hello, I am glad it is still there, even the Bodega was still there when I visited in 2007!.

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  8. Okay, you lost me at "cake bakery." Oh, how I would love to be there eating a pastry. I'll have to settle with a piece of whole wheat and some peanut butter at this late hour.

    Love that door to your special place. It beckons a person to enter to see the mysteries on the other side.

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  9. Tattered and Lost; I love Peanut butter!

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  10. Blogging is great to learn new things. Thank you.

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    1. Sharon, absolutely and so much fun!

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  11. Stories about cafes and hotels where intellectuals gathered are so fascinating. You have given us the full lifespan of one of the greats.

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    1. Wendy, When I was young I was reading and reading,there was so much hunger for knowledge; Somerset Maugham, I especially loved "Of human bondage", it taught me so much. Erich Maria Remarque's books I loved to read too. They are still in my library, sometimes they come to dinner!!

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  12. Funnily enough there were Odeons in UK too, but they were cinemas. You reminded me of my summers in Vienna - "Kaffe und Kuchen" at every opportunity and Pisani's ice cream parlour in Florisdorf.

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  13. Marilyn, yes many cinemas were called Odeon. Sachertorte; Kaffeehauskultur: Die Tageszeitung und der mit einem Glas Wasser servierte Kaffee. The daily news paper,a cup of coffee and a glass of water!

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