Someone is being served by a tuxedoed waiter a hot cup of coffee and yeast dumplings on silver trays today in Vienna because someone started a café called Hawelka a long time ago. It’s a cool 47 degrees outside but inside the warm sun is shining through the window as an aspiring writer starts his morning by reading the newspaper; looking forward to an awesome day after enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee.
Leopold and Josefine Hawelka started the Viennese coffeehouse in 1945. Since then, Café Hawelka has provided a warm haven for cold and hungry World War II refugees, and later a gathering place for intellectuals, students, and tourists. It’s been called “The Living Room” for those who travel to Vienna for business or pleasure.
Until Josefine’s death at age 91 in 2005, the couple worked up to 14 hour days at the Café. Leopold would serve a cup of steaming brew with a smile. He had a vigilant commitment to his guests and their welfare. The Café continues in operation under the leadership of their children with a sense of tradition and stories dating back to 1945. One story is that Leopold would get up before dawn, walking for two hours to the Vienna Woods and trudging back with a sack of firewood to keep the stove burning.
We can learn from the life of people like Leopold; what they did and how they went about each day to become successful. Leopold died in his sleep on December 29, 2011 at the age of 100. Building up and maintaining any business requires the dedication that Leopold has made known. Like a stream and the rock, the stream always wins not because of strength but by perseverance. Leopold went the extra mile to give service for many and the tradition continues as the Café provides great satisfaction and joy. Leopold’s life taught us that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.
What will you do to give that little extra today?