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!