Between Small World Coffee, Rojo’s Roasters, Chez Alice, Infini T, and Starbucks, Princeton has its share of convivial coffee and tea houses. But a café preparing to join the lineup by early next month will add a new dimension to the coffee shop experience, according to its proprietor.
Café Vienna, under construction at the Nassau Street storefront previously occupied by The Piccadilly, is being designed to fill a previously untapped niche. “This will be a totally different experience, a European café,” said Anita Waldenberger, who has spent four years preparing to open the coffee house based on those in her native Austria. “The products we will offer are unique. I want to bring the best quality and consistency to town. That is very important to me.”
Most anyone who has visited Vienna knows about the rich Sacher tortes, marzipan cakes, apple strudels and other authentic Viennese desserts served in the city’s cafés. Those delicacies will be on the menu, Ms. Waldenberger said, and some of them will be lower in calories than customers might expect. “We are very calorie conscious,” she said. “We worked with a pastry chef for more than six months to make lower calorie cakes that are good.”
Also planned are organic teas, breakfast sandwiches, and other items. “We’re still working on the menu,” Ms. Waldenberger said.
The concept of a Viennese café occurred to Ms. Waldenberger after moving to Princeton with her husband in 2004. She had first visited a few years earlier. “I fell in love with the town,” she said. “The coziness, the atmosphere — it reminded me so much of home.”
The idea began to take shape during a visit from her family. “My brother said to me, ‘You need to open a Viennese café in Princeton,” she recalled. “And that has been my goal since then, about four years ago.”
After going to school in Vienna, Ms. Waldenberger worked in a five-star hotel called Warmbad Villach, learning several aspects of the business. She moved to the United States in 1978 to learn English, and decided to stay. Work with a German bank followed before Ms. Waldenberger switched to commercial real estate, which she still practices on a limited basis.
The hotel business has stuck with her. “I always enjoyed helping the guests,” she said. “And I want to bring that level of service to the café.”
Ms. Waldenberger credits the retired professionals at Princeton SCORE, especially Bill Lichtman, with helping her get the business on track. The town was also open to the idea. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity they have given me,” she said. “The idea was very well received.”
Construction on the café began in October. Ms. Waldenberger’s concept is for a modern, yet cozy, interior. At 870 square feet, the café will accommodate seating for 15 inside, and more outside during the warmer months. There will be an exposed brick chimney and mirrors.
Most crucial is the coffee, which will be “world class, served using a state of the art coffee machine,” Ms. Waldenberger said. “It will be totally different from every other coffee in town. I won’t tell you how; that’s our secret.”
Ms. Waldenberger will be the café’s manager. She is anxious to put her experience in the service industry to work. “I know I have something very different,” she said. “I’ll be serving the community and their guests at a higher level, while also appealing to the young in a style that’s modern and hip. This is an international community and I look forward to serving, bringing the uptown and downtown together.”