It’s been seven years since we first met Roberto Pavlović-Hariwijadi. It was the first interview of his life, he had just opened his American Bar at the farmers’ market, with a lot of initial magic, attention to detail and the courage to go into business for himself after years in the bar scene.
A lot has happened since then. Not only is Roberto now a father of four, his bar has tripled, so to speak. In addition to the second bar on Jasomirgottstrasse, there will be Roberto, the third, from next week: an American bar on the Neuer Markt, where the legendary Reiss Bar was once located.
And again the initial magic is in the air: Roberto and his wife and business partner Alexandra have a proud gleam in their eyes as they guide them through the construction site. The bottles still have to be cleared and the tables cleaned, but soon it will be said again: “Welcome to all the twists, turns, turns, detours and short cuts in life. Take a seat among the illustrious guests and let’s start the game. ”The game that Roberto described in his first bar menu years ago.
KURIER: If it wasn’t 9:30 a.m., which drink would you mix?
Roberto: An Americano. It always works.
Alexandra: That goes at this time too.
You started at the farmers’ market, what happened to you young entrepreneurs with the opening of the third bar?
Roberto: It would be the hottest success story of all time if many forces didn’t make it so difficult for us over and over again. Because we really had a good run, did a lot for the city, a lot of charity and events. The bars have become meeting places for people. Multicultural, women and men, all nations. A small place has become three places with a really good aura.
Four children, the third bar, the same wife and business partner – and all of that in times of Corona. How do you do this?
Roberto: (thoughtfully) You can only do that if you love each other. There are many ups and downs, in the end everything is only possible with love.
Alexandra: This is how our new bar book begins. With the pillars of Roberto’s Bar – the first pillar is love. The love of the thing. We also ask that of our employees in what they do.
Roberto: Because then everything comes back twice and three times.
How did this address come about? After the legendary Reiss Bar, there were a few new tenants here, most recently a smoothie shop.
Roberto: The address was offered to us four years ago. But at that time we weren’t ready to expand.
Alexandra: It was a size too big for us. We just didn’t dare. With Corona and the economic crisis, however, a few parameters have changed, such as rental prices. Suddenly we thought: now it’s okay. I’ve always liked this address – after the first lockdown, I kept thinking of this place.
Roberto: There is the right time for everything in life. In doing, new ideas and new concepts arise – and then you hunt them down.
The past 1.5 years have not been easy for night dining. Also because the tourists are still missing. Nevertheless you dare to take this step.
Roberto: You cannot live in fear all the time. It goes on and we will get this pandemic under control. I think you have to go through life with courage.
Alexandra: You have to move. This project also helped us through the lockdown. Because in our heads we were always in the future, always busy. And we had a vision of a time that will be good.
The night gastronomy has been open again since May 19, 2021, before everything was closed for months.
Alexandra: We were a long eight months too.
Roberto: But: the government really helped. The payments flowed, that saved us. Without that it would not have been possible.
From next week there will be three Roberto bars within 300 meters as the crow flies. Can the city center handle so many bars?
Roberto: It can definitely handle more good locations – bars, restaurants, whatever – the main thing is more gastronomy with a good concept.
Speaking of the concept: what is that for the new bar?
Roberto: It’s great that the place has a history. But we are ready to write new stories. It’s a good location and it’ll be a good Roberto American bar. The New Market will soon be one of the nicest squares in town.
Alexandra: This is not a new place, but something that is being brought back to life. This is finally open again, even if it will be completely different. There is nothing left of the old restaurant, we have renewed everything, except for the ventilation pipes.
Alexandra, you are the designer and maker of the bar. The design language is similar to the other locations. What did the conversion cost?
Roberto: (laughs) At the first bar, the bank asked for a concept. With the second and third no more.
Alexandra: The budget … it’s over 500,000 euros – so really a lot for such a small place. But we have a good house bank. And our chandelier has 375,000 crystals. The tables are a reminder of Roberto’s beginnings: based on the design by Adolf Loos. And we have a cooperation with Lobmeyr, our signature drink is called that and is served in the famous candy bowl.
You will be opening next week.
Alexandra: Yes, quiet and calm. I like the silence, word should get around that we are here now.