Soupculture in Klagenfurt

We continue the stories of our franchissees with the story of Soupculture in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee in Austria, where Rene Fugger is in charge. So we asked him to answer some of our questions.

1. Where are you from and what do you do?
I come from the southern Austrian region of Carinthia ('Kärnten' in German language), from the city of Klagenfurt - Carinthia's capital city. Since November 2017, I have been running a specialty cafe and organic food venue named cafe .KLU in Klagenfurt, right opposite Klagenfurt University, and a few minutes walking distance from the Wörthersee, Austrian's southernmost lake. Starting from late April 2017, I have been managing Soup Culture Klagenfurt, in an effort to combine specialty coffee with a particular interesting and healthy street food variant complementing our organic food line. 
Our business puts local/regional produce and traceability in the centre of attention, both in the coffee and the soup business. Nearly all products we offer to our clients are purchased from local farmers, homemade or fair trade. The coffee we sell is entirely premium quality and a traded directly with a single coffee farmer or a farmers’ cooperation. This applies also to the ingredients of our soups, and any other products we offer.

2. Who else works with you on the project?
With me on board is Nadine, a student from Klagenfurt University. Nadine originates from Vienna, is currently in her third semester and the soul of our soup kitchen. She is vegan herself and has an excellent hand for the tasty soups we serve five days a week.

3. Why did you chose “Soup Culture”? When you made this decision? 
Soup Culture caught our attention already a year and a half before we opened the venue in Klagenfurt, when we came across a Soup Culture sales point in the vicinity of the Warsaw central railway station. Beside the eye-catching aesthetic value (incomparable photographic images), we instantly liked the idea of producing healthy and nutritious food without using receptacles to serve it. 

4. What was the hardest part of setting everything up? Did you have any issues with regulations or rent?
We have not encountered any difficulties for the set-up, luckily. Since we have been running the place as a Specialty Coffee & Organic Food venue earlier everything was already in place. Also, our venue is equipped with a small restaurant kitchen that holds sufficient space for the preparation for any sort of food. The only extra investment was the establishment of the sales point.

5. Do you think, generally, people love soup in Austria? What are the national ones? What kind of special soups do you cook?
To eat soup as side dish or starter is very common, however, people are not used to consume soup as a main dish or a snack during the day. People would rather eat salad for that reason. Neither is the health factor a point of consideration. This is what we are trying to change.

6. What is the price of the soup at your place?
We sell the soup products for 5.60 Euros, and issue a bonus card that makes customers eligible for one free soup (10+1) after the consumption of ten. 

7. Do you already have regular customers? Do people ask you about idea and do you tell them about it?
We do have regulars, mainly university staff members and students that work and study nearby. They all welcome the idea, firstly, because it is a healthy alternative to the standard street food, secondly, because of the zero waste-policy. Our customers really appreciate the fresh cups and the take-away option.

8. Do you remember any interesting guests or funny stories, connected with “Soupculture”?
I won’t recall anything that would stand out at the moment. However, at a promotional event during the Long Night of Museums we enjoyed to see lots of children exploring our soups that we, for that occasion, served in coloured soup cups (yellow, red and green). We did not expect children being so fond of soup. 

9. What to see in Klagenfurt?
There is a number of interesting sites: The Renaissance Landhaus (state parliament) building dates from the late 16th century; the 16th-century Dragon Fountain, the emblem of the city; the MMKK, the gallery for modern and contemporary art; the Dom, Klagenfurt's cathedral displaying a monolith with an ornate marble pulpit and a sugary pink-and-white stuccoed ceiling. Finally, you can stroll along the Lake Wörthersee, a 20-kilometer-by-two-kilometer lake at the city’s western outskirts. And many more places.

10. Is there any other popular street foods in the city?
Like everywhere in Austria you will find a lot of Döner Kebab places. Over the past 20 years they have gradually replaced the sausage eateries. 

11. What is your type of leisure? What do you like to do in a free time, maybe you have a hobby?
I really love hiking. South of Klagenfurt you will incredible mountain ridges, part of the Southern (Limestone) Alps. Whenever there is time on the weekends I will hike those mountains. 

We wish Rene and his team a good luck!