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01 - Welcome

A slice of history

The beginnings

The ancestors of the Kéhli family probably came to Óbuda in the early 1700s from Kehl near Strassburg (hence the family surname).Like most of the Ös-óbuda families, they were engaged in agriculture, viticulture and winemaking. Károly Kéhli was the first of the family to open a winery at 8 Kiskorona Street in 1885. At that time, only wine was tasted here, mostly home-made cold cuts (pork cheese, sausage, bacon) were served with it. After the death of Károly Kéhli, his wife, Mária Schlosser, continued the business. György Prósz married here, marrying their daughter Magdolna. The Prósz family was also a family of innkeepers. Records show that György Prósz ran a pub at 12 Szőlőkert utca from 1908. After his death his wife took over the business. Like the other pubs in Óbuda, they measured the harvest of their vines on the summit of the mountain and served cold snacks. There was also a table service here, the clientele was made up of civilians and small officials. The pub had a peaceful, family atmosphere. György Prósz, widow of Károlyn Kéhli, took over the shop at 8 Kiskorona Street in 1935. Being a talented and ambitious man, he recognised the opportunity offered by the purchase of wine after the destruction of the phylloxera and soon, after giving up the small-scale wine tasting, he became a wine merchant. He supplied wine to some of the pubs in Old Buda, but also to other innkeepers in Buda and Pest.

Kéhli mama

Another member of the Kéhli family, Mrs. József Kéhli opened a wine tavern at 22 Mókus Street in 1885. This business was taken over by his sons József and Ferenc. József later opened a restaurant in Ferencváros, and the Mókus Street restaurant was completely taken over by Ferenc. In this work, he found a great helpmate and supporter in his wife, the "Kéhli mama", who later gained legendary fame and was respected by everyone. As in other wine taverns and pubs in Óbuda, only cold food was served with the wine in Mókus Street at the beginning. The hot kitchen was introduced in 1939. The idea was inspired by the 'Sípos vendéglő' in Lajos Street, where fish dishes were a great success. The Kéhli's did not adopt the Sípos' idea one by one, but rather served simple, everyday dishes such as stew, goulash, etc. Fish was served once a week, on Fridays. Then only fish and cottage cheese was the daily special. What was the reason for the fame? At that time there were dozens of pubs like Kéhli in Óbuda, at least two or three in every street. The wine was good, the equipment was almost the same. And yet! The Kéhli restaurant stood out among them and, it is safe to say, became world famous. One might say, by accident. Of course, this is not entirely true, there are no such coincidences. The Kéhli's have gone to great lengths to ensure that their fame has taken off in the way they deserve. They were very respectful of their guests, they took great pains to make them feel at home, their hospitality there was truly a welcome vision, their every expression showed it. They respected whoever came in, the guest's wishes were sacred to them. The recipe for success was undoubtedly also the respectable Mama Kéhli, who, according to Mende legend, often partied with her guests until dawn. The following story, the true story of the Old Buda snapper soup, is proof of this.

Kéhli in the present day

Thus ended the first glorious era of the Kéhli restaurant. But the restaurant did not cease to operate. The restaurant was leased by the Catering Company and continued to operate under the name of the Bridge Restaurant until 1989, when it became the property of the Cecei family. In keeping with tradition, the restaurant once again took up the bona fide historic name. Thus, from 1990 onwards, the Kéhli restaurant was once again run under the name of the founding family. The building took on its present form between 1988 and 1990, with the former kitchen and two service rooms being moved onto one floor and converted into a restaurant, the kitchen being converted from the former apartment. A separate room was converted from Mama Kéhli's apartment and a wine room from the former cellar. In 1991, the then manager, the still-mentioned Mr Cecei-Horváth, had the opportunity to buy the building from Ferenc Kéhli and open his own shop under the Kéhli brand. The business then began to flourish.
The arched vestibule was built in and covered, increasing the number of seats in the covered rooms to 210, and the garden room to 80.

The new owner had the same goal as the eponymous Kéhli family: to create a warm and welcoming hospitality. To this end, he called on the ins and outs of Hungarian gastronomy and, together with Eduard Gaál B, founded the new Kéhli. Good wines, music, literature were all replaced in the "new" Kéhli, as they once were. The Kéhli flourished again. Guests came from all over the world. Among their guests were Hungarian prime ministers, ministers and famous politicians after the fall of communism, among them foreign notables such as Giscard D'Estain, Helmuth Kohl or Jimmy Carter. Actors such as Zoltán Latinovits, Ila Schütz, Gyula Bodrogi, Péter Trokán, foreign celebrities such as Schwarzenegger, Anthony Delon, Salma Hayek, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ralph Fiennes and others such as George Soros, Koko, Klicsko and many more. In the evenings, the restaurant now has live music. On the wall of the restaurant's main hall there is a plaque commemorating the famous guest Gyula Krúdy, along with many other photos and paintings. The Krúdy Literary Circle still meets under this plaque.
The memorial plaque was erected by Mama Kéhli in memory of the great writer. In the display cases are relics of a bygone era.

Tibor Cecei, the last Hungarian gentleman, ran the restaurant until 2011, when his long revelry came to an end. Since then, his children Eszter, Gergely, Tibor and mum Rita have tried to stay true to the restaurant's traditions. The Kéhli restaurant is one of the rare restaurants in Óbuda that has been in operation from its establishment to the present day. We hope that it will remain here for a long time to come, in the shadow of modern houses, evoking a small island of the past. Reminding us of the old, traditional hospitality and the atmosphere of the peaceful times of Old Buda. We invite you on a musical, gastronomic, cultural and historical journey every time you visit us. I wish you and your family a time of peace and happiness within these walls.