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Boom in street cafe applications

From today Vienna's street cafes can open as tables and chairs are set out on pavements  in time for the arrival of the warmer weather this coming weekend.

According to the Vienna Chamber of Commerce there has been a boom in the number of applications for permission to operate outdoor cafes the so called Schanigärten in the city's streets which can open their doors for the new season from today (1 March).

The Chamber of Commerce attributes this dramatic increase in applications to the smoking regulations in place in the Austrian capital banning people from smoking in many of the city's eateries.

During the 2011 season there were approximately 1,800 street cafes located on public property and around 600 located on private property in the Austrian capital. This is expected to increase significantly in 2012.

Willy Turecek, responsible for gastronomy at the Vienna Chamber of Commerce said: "We have had a lot of new applications for permission to run street cafes in the city."

The exact figures are not yet available as the deadline for applications for 2012 has not yet passed. However, Turacek suspects the figure will rise even more and he claims this is due in part to the smoking regulations in the city and the freedom to smoke freely in the street cafes.

Street cafes are permitted to open between the 1 March and 15 November between 8am and 11pm unless in a courtyard and then it is forced to close at 10pm due to noise regulations. With exemptions, some cafes can open for food and drink until midnight.

Street cafes have to have a licence from the city authorities - there are criteria which the cafes have to meet such as fitting in with the architecture of the city and the city's image. The outdoor cafe should also characterise the indoor cafe.

The costs for the licence vary form district to district - with Vienna's first district being the most expensive. Costs are expected to rise again this year - especially in the First District.

However, the system is expected to become more flexible. Cafe owners will no longer have to commit to a whole season and they will be able to apply for their licence for a number of months in the season instead of having to pay for the whole season. There will be no minimum period during which they will be required to be open.

The very first pavement cafe to be granted a licence in Vienna was a coffee house owner by the name of Gianni Tarroni. He opened his establishment in 1750 and it was located on Vienna's exclusive Graben street.

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