In a couple of years the Káli Basin could become the kind of exciting place whose spirit is already represented by Pegazus because it is absolutely okay here to adopt an anti-ruin pub attitude and transform an Esterházy mansion into a versatile community space. A test run has already started here on the ruins of what 30 years ago used to be the haunt of German tourists, but there is still a lot to do to really get Pegazus off the ground.
Locals in Szentbékkálla already keep peeking through the gates. As it turns out, everyone here has personal memories of the 200-year-old mansion, originally belonging to the Esterházy family.
In the ‘80s Pegazus was considered to be a modern inn where German tourists used to be taken by the busload for food, drink and entertainment such as live Gypsy music and programmes showcasing Hungarian traditions. Pegazus provided almost everyone in the village with work: some were interns, others were musicians or waiters. The place was run by Pegazus Tours then, and the name stuck. The privatization of the estate was followed by less prosperous years, the pool and the tennis court became overgrown with weeds, and by twenty years ago there was nothing here except heaps of debris on the yard and an unoccupied building that grew more derelict with each passing year.
So roughly twenty years ago Pegazus, which had once seen better days, was a ruinous, deserted haunted house. The locals passed it by on their way to church, and that was pretty much it. However, in spring the signs of a facelift started to show, so it is no wonder that time and again people stop and admire the change. The two young managers, Sára Fegyverneky and Olivér Auguszt don’t mind taking the time to invite everyone in for a drink and explain what is going on here.
Sára and Olivér don’t like to use the expression “ruin pub”, even though we’d be hard pressed to recall a more authentic ruin we’ve seen recently. Instead, if they absolutely had to define it, they would describe the project as building a community space. Because this is still a test run. When they jumped in all Sára, a Budapest architect, and Olivér, the offspring of a famous family of confectioners working in film post-production in London, knew for sure was that they loved Szentbékkálla and that they wanted to create a high-standard place near the Balaton.
The building was a given, but due to lacking significant capital, they had to take things slow. So far they have spruced up part of the ground floor just enough so that visitors can come inside in case of a thunderstorm.
Only after looking at the before-after pictures of the garden were we really able to tell how amazing the transformation has been, and our appreciation for Sára and Olivér only grew upon finding out that, without exaggeration, they did everything by themselves around the house.
A colourful counter, a couple of tables, chairs and shades. This is all you need to fill a garden that has been silent for decades with laughter and the sounds of evening chats again. In the past few weeks they held two opening parties here. The first was an experiment, so they invited mostly friends and acquaintances, but as news of the place keep spreading, last Friday a decent number of unknown faces showed up as well.
The drink selection is the most well-rounded, and it keeps getting better as new wines of local winemakers are constantly being added. We tried some Trombitás wines while we were here. They only serve one kind of dish every day, which is also prepared by Olivér and Sára in the morning. They have already made a delicious chilli and quesadilla, and recently they have been experimenting with Indian food.
Olivér says they have learnt a lot already, but there are still a lot of things they need to get the hang of when it comes to running the place. They go by the trial and error method because they don’t want to become indebted or crash and burn due to a huge investment. They want to develop Pegazus slowly, step by step.
This summer will most likely be all about the test run phase, but next season they want to be a venue for thematic mini festivals such as yoga, music and film workshops, among other things. Their dream is to turn the place into a hostel, but they would need to redo the entire upper floor first, and they don’t stand a chance without subsidy from the state. Recently they have been pondering setting up a camp site with rentable tents, and they would also like to restore the pool, which currently only has a sapling growing right in the centre of it.
Commitment, enthusiastic friends and helping hands are something they have plenty of around Pegazus these days. Keep an eye on this place because something really cool is in the making here.
Address: 8281 Szentbékkálla, Kossuth utca
Opening times: Monday-Sunday 11:00-24:00