The Titans of Dufflespitze – Forbes

The Plachutta family of restaurants has not only managed to achieve worldwide recognition for their old Viennese dish, Tafelspitz, but has also managed to grow steadily over the decades. Three generations are responsible for the success of six restaurants – soon to be seven.

In 1998, the famous journalist Raymond Walter Apple Jr., once a deputy editor of the New York Times, wrote a list of the 35 best restaurants in Europe for the American Forbes magazine. With “Austria” at the top in alphabetical order, the list reads “In Austria they say Emperor Franz Joseph ate Tafelspitz for lunch every day. A visit to Blachuta will show you why”. Long before food bloggers filled the internet with their content, these words sounded like a compliment to managing director Mario Blachuta.

“Plachuta’s success elevates something simple to art. “We have been very serious about quality over the years, weighing the spices to standardize the quantities so that the taste is always the same,” says Mario Plachuta. The finesse and sporting ambition to get a dish right is no accident – ​​long before his father, Ewald Plachuta, opened the first restaurant with his surname, he was a member of the Austrian National Culinary Team and won a gold medal as a chef at the 1968 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt. Main and a special price. In 1979, the talented chef and hotel expert Uwe V. Kohl ventured into self-employment: with a share capital of 50,000 schillings (€3,633.64, not taking inflation into account), the two businessmen bought the Viennese luxury restaurant Zu den drei Husaren for 16 million shillings. Although the then Federal President Bruno Kreisky came and went, the expected economic success was not achieved. Nevertheless, the Castro group took over Grotta Azura and Hitzinger Brew in 1987.

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The latter, with today’s “Plachutta headquarters” in Vienna’s upscale 13th district, was highly profitable. This luxurious property provided the perfect conditions for running a restaurant in a middle-class environment. A revival of Viennese beef dishes, in which twelve different cuts of beef are served in a copper pot with a strong soup, root vegetables, leeks, marrow bones, classic soup ingredients, wedge sauce, apple horseradish, roasted potatoes and Viennese vegetables. A stir among the Viennese people. Four years after opening, Ewald Plachutta was named Chef of the Year by Gault-Millau, and the following year he was awarded three Toques and the “Trophee Gourmet” from A la Carte Austria; In 1993, a Michelin star went to the chef. It was the perfect time to let go of the stakes in Three Hussars and Grotta Azura and instead take over the sole ownership of “Plachuta Stormhouse”.

24 years old then Mario Blachuta recognized the immense potential in the brand and it was inexhaustible. “Vienna at this time had star-studded gastronomy, but no concept of home-style food. We were the first to consciously create a specific system to focus on a specialty and maintain that quality consistently,” he explains. It’s time – in 1993, the young entrepreneur opened “Plachutta Wolzeile” in Vienna’s 19th district. The restaurant became a tourist magnet in particular; Woody Allen, Mel Gibson, Orlando Stars like Bloom and Priscilla Presley have already been guests, but Plachuta’s father, Ewald, has been active: he has published several cookbooks, which have now sold 1.4 million copies.

Since November 2019, Julia Blachuta, daughter of Mario Blachuta, has been in charge of the company’s marketing and PR.

Apakirti The brand inspired Plachuta Jr. to develop new ideas and expand further. The Grünspan beer restaurant opened in the 16th arrondissement in 2002, followed by the modern “Mario Pasta-Grill-Bar” in 2006. The opening of the “Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper” in 2011 was the busy businessman’s last prank to date. The company currently employs around 300 people and annual sales have been stable at 30 million euros for many years, except during the corona pandemic.

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However, in recent years, the company has been repeatedly criticized for its treatment of its employees. In particular, in 2014, it hit the headlines due to its labor practices and dismissal procedures, which did not comply with legal requirements. Mario Plachuta firmly rejects accusations that he is a bad boss – more than half of the employees have been with the company for more than a decade. The employer, referred to as “Häferl” (Viennese for choleric), has not made public for a long time: he employs five employees with Down syndrome. “It’s not a good plan, they’re full-fledged employees. If they’re missing, operations run poorly,” he says.

The idea to make it public comes from his daughter, Julia Plachuta, who has been in charge of marketing and public relations at the group since 2019. “We want to encourage other companies to follow our example. Many people are afraid to hire people with special needs or have no experience with it,” he says.

The younger son has also joined the family business after completing his hotel management course in Lausanne. “As my father expanded his father’s concept, what I am working on next for the Plachuta brand,” explains Christoph Plachuta, who has been working at the company since July 2023. He is actively supporting his father in planning a new restaurant on the Neuer Markt next to Korndner Strasse that will open this year. Mario Blachuta doesn’t want to reveal too much about the restaurant, which he says represents “an easy way of life.” Deviating from this is a big mistake. But this concept can be a little more casual and informal.

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Plachuta is a restaurant chain in Vienna known for its traditional Viennese cuisine and one dish in particular, tafelspitz. Founded by the great chef Ewald Plachuta, the restaurant business known beyond the borders of the country is now managed by his son Mario Plachuta.

Photos: Barbara Nidetzky, Philip Creedle

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