Fine food, great accommodations and interesting items on sale: there are numerous innovative social projects in Vienna that combine enjoyment with helping others.
Inigo, a restaurant located opposite the Jesuitenkirche church in the historic old town, is a pioneer of the social enterprises operating in Vienna’s food service industry. Since 1992, this Caritas-operated venture has been serving up good food made with regional ingredients, as well as helping long-term unemployed people find a way back into the labour market.
Kantine at the Brotfabrik creative cluster is another Caritas social project under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Vienna. The canteen with a sit-down restaurant is run by professional chefs working alongside a team of dedicated trainees comprising young people, refugees and jobseekers. In February 2015
Caritas opened Magdas Hotel near the Prater where seasoned hotel professionals work side by side with refugees. Magdas Salon, a café-bar with attractive outdoor seating, is also part of the hotel.
Mittendrin is a cafe, bar and restaurant that forms part of an innovative Viennese social project on Währinger Strasse where students and formerly homeless people live, study and work. The compact but excellent menu always has special treats in store for residents and visitors alike.
Purple Eat on Meidlinger Markt in the twelfth district is painted bright purple, making it a real eyecatcher. The permanent market stall set up by Purple Sheep, an organization representing the rights of asylum seekers and foreigners, serves up fresh food from Tuesday to Saturday. Asylum seekers prepare dishes from their native countries using as many organic and regional ingredients as possible.
Originally introduced as a pop-up multi-generational day center, Vollpension has now found a permanent home in the fourth district. At this retro bar senior citizens serve homemade cakes and pastries. Run as a social enterprise, the concept is designed to promote communication between young and old by offering guests a menu that will evoke childhood memories.
Habibi & Hawara, a new arrival on Wipplingerstrasse in the first district, is run by refugees and Viennese chefs. The outcome is Austro-oriental fusion cuisine, with set menus available at lunch time and an à la carte family menu consisting of several courses in the evenings.
The handmade design products at Goodgoods are created in workshops where people with mental or physical disabilities are employed. The bags, home appliances and kitchen aids sold on the website are the outcome of an initiative by Vienna designers Sofia Podreka and Katrin Radanitsch (Dottings Industrial Design). They brought together designers and workshops, highlighting the particular features of each workshop and the skills of its workers.
Gabarage Upcycling Design is all about making creative use of industrial waste materials, transforming ring binders into practical bags, shuttlecocks into quirky lamps and subway escalator parts into comfy seating. The company provides employment for people from socially disadvantaged groups and sells its innovative, sustainable products at its showroom in the fourth district.
Caritas operates a pair of Carla second hand stores in the fourth district. Their motto is “Reuse it, don’t throw it away” and their conscientious customers know that when they buy something they are not only doing their bit to protect the environment but also supporting the charity’s projects. The Carla outlets sell well-cared for, used items including furniture, electrical appliances, books, clothes and even cars.
Volkshilfe Würfel is similar to the Carla chain and has a number of second hand shops in Vienna. Set up in the 1990s, this sizeable operation helps long-term jobseekers to return to employment.