Casino Keller

Casino-Keller


Useful Information

Location: Below the house "Cafe Casino", Grazerstraße 16, 4820 Bad Ischl
Open: 1st and 2nd Wed every Month at 15.
Sat 10:30.
[2019]
Fee: donation. [2019]
Classification: ExplainKeller
Light: electric
Dimension: Ar=376m², T=12°C.
Guided tours: D=45min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: wheelchair accessible
Bibliography:  
Address: Cafe Casino Keller, Bernhard Schmalnauer, Grazerstraße 16, 4820 Bad Ischl, Tel: +43-664-9559389. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

~1500 cellar dug.
1625 building in front of the cellar errected.
1870 Brewery Ischler Brauerei and pub opened in the building.
1908 brewery bancrupt, building and cellar sold.
1971 purchased by Schmalnauer family.
1992 Josef Schmalnauer dies and Cafe Casino is closed.
2013 cellar opened for the public.

Description

The Casino Keller was an ice cellar used by locals and merchants for storing all kinds of food and later for beer by a local brewery. So it was widely known and the building where it is located behind is still called Café Casino, although the cafe is closed for years now. This kind of cellar is called Grieblkeller in the local dialect, which means it normally was located in the quarter on the right side of the river Traun, which was called im Gries or im Griebl. The cellars are also called Ischler Steinkeller (rock cellars of Ischl).

This part of the city has a different geology than the city center, which is built on the loose rubble deposited by the river Traun. The rocks on the right side of the river are more solid clastic sedimentary rocks formed much earlier, deposited by an ancient version of the Traun 120.000 years ago. Conglomerates and sandstones are rather soft and comparably easy to mine and build the cellars. Nevertheless the rock was stable enough to hold up even without using wooden frames. The porosity of the rock regulated the humidity inside the cellars, so it was ideal for the stored goods. And finally the ground is high enough to avoid the frequent floods caused by the rising river Traun during snow melt and after heavy rains. And the most interesting thing: the cellars were dug horizontally into the Siriuskogl, the rocky outcrop behind the houses. As a result it is possible to drive into the cellars with carts and today with cars. This made the transport of the goods much easier.

In 1466 the town Ischl was granted the Marktrecht, the right to hold markets, which was important thing as subsequently the people sold goods in the town. The town earned taxes and it produced income from dealers and buyers staying at hotels and eating in restaurants. But the problem was that there was not enough storage room for all the goods, and unfortunately there was the danger of floods in the town center so most buildings had no cellar at all. As a result a lot of cellars were built for the storage of goods in the Griebl, which had above geologic advantages, was above the flood zone, but still inside the Burgfriedsgrenze, the border of the town.

Many houses in this area had cellars cut into the soft rock, but the Casino Keller was exceptional, as it was additionally cooled by ice. The ice was cut in the winter on the surface and then the ice blocks were transported into the cellar and kept it cooler than the current 12°C, more like a modern refrigerator around 5 to 7°C. The ice lasted over the summer, and was replaced every winter. This cellar was by far the biggest, carts with the ice could drive a loop through the cellar, no need to turn around or drive out backwards. There was enough room for wine merchants and hotel owners.

In 1870 it was purchased by the Ischler Brauerei which used it to store beer which was sold at the building in front which was named Bräu Griebl Kellerhaus. That's the time the building became an inn and was quite popular. The Ischler Brauerei went bankrupt with the introduction of cooling machines for breweries in 1908. Obviously the cellar was the main competitive advantages and became obsolete with the cooling machines. As a result the cellar and the building above were sold and the new owner opened the Cafe Casino with a cafe in the ground floor. The first floor was a dance hall with a bar named Teddy-Bar serving cocktails. Not only the waiter had a tie, it was also mandatory for the guests. There was a small stage for live bands and guests could retreat into a separee.

After many years the cafe was finally sold in 1971 to Josef Schmalnauer. His friends called him Boart Sepp, boart is the local dialect for beard and Sepp the short form of Josef. He was a singer and had traveled many countries, and he bought the cafe to realize his dream of becoming the singing landlord of Ischl. While he was singing, playing guitar, and entertaining the guests, his wife waited, and soon the cafe was even more popular than before. His program was quite entertaining with a mixture of local folk, pop songs, shanties, stories, and jokes. And after curfew the whole restaurant moved into the cellar and continued drinking and singing unseen and undisturbed by the police. But this strenuous life cost its toll and Sepp became sick and grumpy, the number of guests shrank and finally he had only seasoned drinkers as guests. At the end he died bequeathing a ruined restaurant and a lot of debts to his son.

Today the cafe is closed and the house and cellar are owned by Sepps son, Bernhard Schmalnauer. He offers free tours of the cellar (donations are accepted) and tells stories about the cellar and the life of his father. The tours are offered on two Wednesdays per month, and quite recently on Saturdays also. The cellar is also open on special events, for example the Tag des offenen Denkmals (day of the the open memorial) in September. You can also rent it for all kinds of events, like marriages or birthday parties.