It belongs here so much that it feels like it’s been here forever. It’s hard to imagine Blaha Lujza Street – and even Balatonfüred – without Kredenc. Kedves, Hello Tourist, Morzsa, and Beer Balaton, the newest resident of the street, all joined its ranks. Hotel Blaha Lujza on one side, and Horváth House Wine Gallery on the other greet visitors, who will soon experience how past and present live together, how likeable Balatonfüred is, and how much can a few progressive-thinking people achieve if they work together.
Blaha Lujza Street has been the beating heart of Balatonfüred for ages: the road that led to the sour-water was busy in the mornings; the youth of that times visited Horváth House, and the most famous Hungarian actress of those days, “the nation’s nightingale”, Lujza Blaha was feeding her chickens in the garden of her holiday home. Don’t expect such a romantic picture in the small street of the Reform-era part of town – however, it has something else to offer.
“Blaha Lujza Street is a town within the town: this isn’t Balatonfüred, it’s Blaha Street, Balatonfüred,” said András Dobai, the owner of Kredenc Bistro and Hello Tourist. The small Reform-era street is only a short walk away from the lake and the colorful tourist crowds of the promenade, yet it’s an entirely different world. Even smart marketing specialists couldn’t have come up with a better idea than András Dobai had to make the most beautiful, elegant, yet sleepy street of Balatonfüred come back to life after all these years. The former musician created his trademark sub-Mediterranean atmosphere with Kredenc bistro in 2010: the unique mix of homely, friendly, open-minded hospitality and special music – world music, folk, jazz, acid-jazz, bossa nova.
They planted it with culture
This is the place where the classic bistro vibe meets with energetic bossa nova tunes, the best wines of the region meet with fine dining and sandwiches, slam poetry with sound system. If we travel around Lake Balaton, we will find each of these, but only Blaha Lujza Street has them all in one place. If it wasn’t for the lake and the other inviting destinations nearby, we wouldn’t even have to leave this street, because there really is everything one might need here.
Besides Hotel Blaha Lujza, you can get accommodation at Kredenc Inn, have gourmet meals at Horváth House, bistro courses at Morzsa Bistro, wine and tapas at Kredenc, craft beer at Beer Balaton, and desserts at Kedves. And if you feel like dancing, hanging around, meeting new people, and just want to be free, then you have Hello Tourist. All of this is within a hundred meters.
The like-minded owners of the units on Blaha Lujza Street await guests who want “laid-back, relaxed, alternative hospitality”: “We try to make good things, give good things, and we hope that we can make a living out of it.” From fall to spring, the street is quiet like the sleeping lake; it has a cozy vibe that invites in to have a glass of wine. Then, when summer arrives, the bohemian, buzzing life comes back with coffee dates, desserts, long talks, and good music.
They have a vision
The groundbreaker was Kredenc that found its home in a building from 1795: following an unsuccessful experiment in Budapest, András Dobai and his wife were looking for a nice, reasonably priced place in a street that would suit the kind of bistro they were dreaming of. They wanted to open a bohemian pub, in which they would pair up the best wines of the region with cultural programs. As András Dobai said: “we plant the street with culture.”
The business owners of the street made the first “sidewalk festival” happen at the end of May, and then the street hosted the Book-Wine-Jazz Festival within the frameworks of MOL Nagyon Balaton from June 6 to 11 when they had exciting concerts, wine tastings, and other programs.
The thematic evenings, wine tastings, jazz events, slam poetry gigs, and live-music parties are just as essential parts of Blaha Lujza Street by now as the cobbled stone and the charming classicist houses. “A superficial person would call be a snob for doing underground stuff because that’s fashionable now. But those who knows me know that I’ve been an alternative musician since I was 14. I can’t change who I am, and I don’t want to manage a typical tourist-spot. We wanted to do that with Hello Tourist, but it didn’t work out, because we don’t know how.”
“It’s finally not just me,” says the relieved Dobai. “I was fighting with the elements by myself since 2010, and it really was a fight.” Although no one even opened the door in the first year, later people have fallen in love with them so much that they opened a new spot with a different profile just to provide place for everybody. That place is the so-called surf pub, Hello Tourist. András has become a big name in the industry, and although he’s too modest to admit, we manage to learn that “the others came here too, they see potential in the street. The street has a vibe now, which is partly due to the fact that Balatonfüred improved a lot during the years. More and more people come who are open to what we’re doing. I have a vision that gave direction to the street, and I couldn’t have imagined things otherwise with this street view.”
The imaginary rulebook of Blaha Lujza Street would probably list the honest, personal service free from any "theatrical tricks", and the sense of community among the first rules. According to Dobai, the new mentality freshened up the industry: “The kind of people who, instead of being captious, strive to achieve partnership in other aspects of their lives as well started to come here. I don’t believe that it’s good if my business is booming while my neighbor’s isn’t.”
The neighbors don’t have a reason to complain either. Hotel Blaha Lujza is one of the most elegant buildings of the town, and every inch of it evokes nostalgia in its guests. The confectionery, Kedves, is small, simple, and kind (which is exactly what its name means) place, with homemade pies and all-time, classic favorites. The Wine Gallery in the historic, two-hundred-year-old cellar of Horváth House is one of the best restaurants of Balaton. They’re open all year round, naturally. András Kaizer, the owner/chef of Morzsa hopes that the street is alluring enough for people to come here during winter, and dares to “hire a staff and manage a business for 365 days”.
The belly of Balatonfüred
Morzsa Bistro was launched in winter, which was a brave move, but they were fortunate: Lake Balaton froze, and the crowds were coming. András Kaizer fell in love with the street (“Morzsa is my love”) so much, that he lured his old friend, Zsolt Márkovics here; he opened Beer Balaton, his craft-beer store right next to Morzsa – they have more than eighty types of beer, and “beer is all over the place” here with three beer taps attached to the wall.
Blaha Lujza Street will become a pedestrian street during the FINA World Championship, and it’s the wish of the owners to make that permanent. That way the street could become the “entertainment district” of Balatonfüred, or, as András Dobai put it, the “belly” of the town. Here, according to Dobai, people can feel like they aren’t even in Hungary. “Not because it isn’t good to be in Hungary, but because it’s similar to cozy French and Italian small towns.” What we like the most about Blaha Lujza Street is that it’s here, next to Lake Balaton, and it brings that dolce vita to Hungary. András Dobai doesn’t want to go anywhere else either: “We received so much love from the guests that it would be enough for a lifetime. And it would be enough till death even if only bad things would happen from now on.”
This article was brought to you by MOL Nagyon Balaton.
Translated by Emma Póli