Caru’ cu Bere, the popular 135-year old restaurant in Bucharest's Old Town, welcomes 2,500 clients a day
Caru’ cu Bere (The Beer Cart) is not only one of the oldest restaurants in Bucharest, but it’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Romania’s capital, with some 2,500 clients visiting it every day. About 40% of these – or some 1,000, are foreign tourists, according to the restaurant’s managers.
Known mostly for the traditional Romanian food it serves, Caru’ cu Bere also has a rich history behind, as it turned 135 years old this year. The owners and the managers are currently working on renovating the upper floors and the façade of the building, with work schedule to last until end-2015.
Investments are made by the owners of the place, represented by the founder’s grandson Nicolae Mircea, with support from the restaurant managers, the City Grill chain. The restaurant chain invested some EUR 1 million in revamping the interior of the restaurant back in 2006.
Then, City Grill took over the operational management of the restaurant and managed to run it into one of the biggest restaurants in Bucharest. Caru’ cu Bere has increased its turnover by 10-15% each year since then, and this year it is getting close to EUR 5.5 million, according to City Grill’s owner Dragos Petrescu. Caru’ cu Bere alone welcomes a quarter of the clients the whole City Grill chain has a day – a total close to 10,000.
“Some 2,500 clients come to Caru’ cu Bere every day and about 40% of these are foreign tourists, who come either via tourism agencies or by themselves. Our recipe is simple: we have understood that people want good local food at reasonable prices. With an average bill of EUR 35, we can say that dining with us is accessible,” Dragos Petrescu said.
Foreigners spend on average some EUR 20 on their bill at Caru’ cu Bere, and show interest in the history of the place, and in local traditions. Some of these foreigners included international personalities such as Kirk Douglas, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Edward Kennedy, the Rolling Stones’ band members, Demi Moore, Jon Voight, Danny Trejo, and Naruhito, the Japanese heir prince.
The restaurant managers tried to keep as many items as possible from its original menu. The mici, ciorba de burta and ciorba de perisoare are among the most popular on Caru’ cu Bere’s menu, while Romanian beer is also popular among foreigners who dine at Caru’ cu Bere. The restaurants sells 2,000 tons of mici every month and 3,000 portions of pork with cabbage.
Caru’ cu Bere was established in 1879 by Transylvanian merchants from the Sighisoara region, the Mircea family. It became famous at the turn of the century, before World War One and Romania’s Great Union as a meeting place for Transylvanian activists.
In 1949, the restaurant was seized by the communist regime and it was only 50 years later, in 1999 that it returned to its rightful owners, Nicolae Mircea’s grand grandchildren.
The restaurant covers some 1,300 sqm and the two upper floors host seven rooms of up to 50 sqm each. The City Grill chain, which manages Caru’ cu Bere, also includes restaurants under the brands Buongiorno, City Grill, City Cafe and Hanu’ Berarilor, al of which in Bucharest.
Andrei Chirileasa, [email protected]
(photos: Caru' cu Bere)