Spanish version

Quality Fast Food: Viena Capellanes

Logo Viena CapellanesThe Founders

In 1871, Marti, a doctor from Valencia went to the Universal Fair in Viena looking for ideas to establish a new business. He did not find any, but got very fond of the Viennese bread and got the recipe. The main difference  was that in this kind of bread they used yeast, while the Spanish one was unleavened bread. When Marti came to Spain he registered the recipe and got the exclusive right to produce it for ten years.
In order to start producing the new bread he contacted Matias Lacasa who immediately decided to invest in this business.

The first shop was open in 1873 on the corner of calle La Misericordia and calle Capellanes, today called Maestro Victoria. Calle Capellanes (chaplain) got its name from the chaplain´s residence located on this street. These chaplains looked after the Royal Household and also the Convent of the Descalzas Reales, located next to the shop. This first building was later demolished, but its name remained linked to the business.

New productsNew Products

The first sucess of Viena Capellanes was undoubtedly the production of Viennese bread. Until then the only known bread in Spain was white bread sold in big pieces. In 1898 Viennese bread could be sold in little pieces what made it very popular. It was considered as a delicatessen and also offered toasted for the tournedo or in slices for soup. This bread was made twice a day, even on Sundays.
Afterwards another new product appeared, gluten bread, specially for diabetics which was a great success. In 1929 Viena Capellanes started making chocolate for diabetics.
They also offer their own coffee.

Another one of their most known products is their Sacher Torte, which is made following the original recipe which Viena Capellanes got from the from the Hotel Sacher in Viena.
In the last decade of the XIXth century, Manuel Lence Fernández came to Madrid. He had been born in Miranda, Galicia, and  made a great part of the trip on foot. He wanted to find a better life and more opportunities in the capital.

When Marti and Lacasa died, Juana Nessi, Lacasa´s widow inherited the shop. Juana Nessi was very interested in offering good quality products. She even revised all eggs every night. Juana employed Manuel Lence as errand boy. In the mornings he worked for the shop and in the afternoons he sold newspapers in the Puerta del Sol.

After Juana´s death, her niece, Carmen Nessi inherited the shop. Carmen Nessi was Pio  Baroja´s mother. Miguel Lacasa, Matias´nephew had inherited another shop in calle Alcala.

DistributionAs the founders had been more interested in enjoying life than in looking after the shop the inheritance came along with many debts and all efforts were not enough to make the business bloom.
A New Owner

When Manuel Lence had been working in Viena Capellanes for three years he became the person in charge of the business. It seems he was more interested in the business than the owners, who preferred literature and painting. In fact, Pio Baroja spent his free time writing his first novels, while his brother was beginning to be known as engraver.
At the same time, the first years of the XXth century were difficult  for all businesses in general. For Viena Capellanes there were two main problems,  the more expensive price for flour and  and more competitors, as the other bakeriess could also make Viennese bread. All this caused a difficult situation. Moreover, they had to leave the shop as the building was going to be demolished. Pio Baroja wanted to dedicate his life to literature, his brother to art and they decided to sell the business to Manuel Lence.
When Manuel took over the business the bakery had only one oven that had been taken to calle Mendizabal and a shop in calle Preciados. This shop was open 24 hours a day.
The Baroja´s started their own new business, a printing workshop (Caro Raggio), but still lived in the same calle Mendizabal and never lost contact with Manuel Lence.

Viena Capellanes Grows

When Manuel started his own business he made all his five brothers come to Madrid to help him. They all worked hard and by 1919 already had five ovens, six bakeries and nine shops. They employed 264 workers and their products were distributed in whole Madrid with two mule carriages and two cars.
In those days work at bakeries was very hard. The workers started their day at 23:00, when they had to clean and grease Viena Capellanes in calle Goya todaythe pots were the bread was cooked, then they took away the coal from the oven and put the bread inside. Once the pieces of bread were ready each one was damped with water, so that the crust was shiny. So they worked about 12 hours every day.
During the roaring twenties Viena Capellanes reached the prestige it still has today. It became purveyor to the Royal Household until the Civil War.
In the 1930 the firm already had two plants and 14 branches. Some of the shops not only sold bread, but also cold meat and cakes and also had a tea room. One of the great innovations of Manuel Lence was that he also offered a catering service. Among their clients were many of the big hotels in Madrid, like the Ritz or the Palace. They also expanded the patisserie offer. All this made them open new branches.
During the Civil War many of the shops were requisitioned and partially destroyed. Once the War ended, the Lence family had to return to its original business and start all over again trying to recover as much as possible. This recovery was almost achieved by the 1950.
Manuel Lence, who really launched Viena Capellanes, died in 1957 and his brother Antonio succeeded him. But there were more heirs and a time of crisis followed until the family Lence Mora started managing the business. It was in the 1980 when the third generation took over the leadership.

Viena Capellanes Today
Third and Forth generation of the Lence familyOne of the most known products made by Viena Capellanes today are their sandwiches. It seems that in the 1930s a client came to one of the shops and asked for a sandwich. The employee, not knowing what this was, asked the client and afterwards made an original sandwich with Spanish ingredients. We could say that this was the origin of quality fast food in Viena Capellanes.
Nowadays it is the fourth generation of the Lence family that is managing the business with the same purpose of quality and evolution.
Among the different Viena Capellanes shops we have in Madrid, probably the most beautiful one is the one located at Goya 37 which still presents the same exterior.
Cafe VienaAnother place to visit is the Cafe Viena, located at calle Luisa Fernanda 23. This was Manuel Lence´s special business. He wanted to have a place where he could sit with his friends and talk or discuss without being disturbed. It was open in 1928 and soon became a meeting place for playwrights and authors who organized their literary gatherings here.

Viena Capellanes has always tried to combine both, craft production and innovation. Nowadays it is a booming business in constant expansion trying to please its clients with quality products. So, if you come to Madrid and have time, try one of their sandwiches or croissants with coffee. You will not be disappointed.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
Sponsored by Keydomo S.L.