A century has passed, and the former building of the legendary Kék Macska mulató (Blue Cat), where the greatest figures of the 19th century gathered to drink and relax, still functions as a place of entertainment. The new BB’z Bar has everything its predecessor had – within legal limits.
After Király utca-Gozsdu udvar and its neighborhood gained back its old crown as a party quarter, the iconic Blue Cat building once again became the center of it. If the venues of Gozsdu udvar were animals, BB’z Bar & Grill would definitely be the ‘mother tiger’. Every day both at noon and during the night, crowds of tourists and Hungarians cross the doors of the place, looking at the popular Király street, in addition to the bar’s many regulars.
These walls have seen a lot during the years: a legendary place, where celebrities of the era spent their nights, the infamous Blue Cat brothel operated here from the end of the 1800’s. Rumor has it that the venue was King Edward VII’s favourite place in Hungary, where he cheated on his wife, Alexandra, with a dancer; however, his mother, Queen Victoria, who was known to be very prude, intervened in the romance. Another story says that Bismarck’s son got so drunk once at the Blue Cat that he started to dance naked on stage – and the host sent every guest home, except him.
The building was designed by Mihály Pollack, and when it was renovated, engineers paid attention to replace the damaged parts with pieces of a demolished Pollack building to keep its authentic style.
’It’s cool to be nice’. This is BB’z motto, and they take it very seriously: the minute a guest arrives, the staff greets everyone loudly as if they were old friends. This mentality is true of the whole service experience, and they approach every guest in different styles, according to the purpose of their visit and the time of day.
To realize this motto, Barbi, the quasi-owner and manager of the place contributes a lot. She is there almost all the time, and the name of the venue, BB’z may – or may not – come from her name. BarBie’z – it makes sense, doesn’t it?
The young, dog-friendly, proactive girl is the heart of the bar. She dreamed up, designed, and styled the whole place in the spirit of creating a venue where she would love to work. Usually, owners create places they would love to visit and spend their nights out, but BB’z became a venue where both guests and staff like to be, which creates an even better atmosphere.
In terms of food, BB’z runs with mostly bar food, with great monthly offers. The menu is not overthought, they don’t claim that they have the best food in the universe, but have a fair, fresh selection of delicacies from steak to burritos to lasagna. In contrast with other clubs, BB’z has a large-scale kitchen, with not just a part-time chef, but a normal kitchen staff.
At noon, BB’z has a lunch menu, usually one of the best on Király street; what’s even better, the prices are affordable. During the summer, it is really nice to have lunch in the huge, half-open place and enjoy the hot day while the walls block the heat of the sun.
In contrast to the neighboring clubs, there is no entry fee, and the prices are fair, while everyone can find the entertainment that best suits them, from louder party rooms through elegant bar to quiet alleys. It’s not like the nowadays so popular ruin pubs, but rather a great restaurant with extras.
In 1860, Rudolf Ágai, humorist of the era, wrote about the Blue Cat that everyone knew it abroad, and its fame was greater than Petőfi, Tokaj wine or the Hungarian horses.
Since then, the venue has clearly lost some of its former infamy and splendor, but BB’z walls still echo with memories of the old times: great food and great entertainment. The spacious spaces and the mixed style allow every generation to enjoy the place, whether they come to chill next to a coffee or for an all-night-long party.
Today’s Karinthy might spend his night out at BB’z or have a meeting with his fellow Nyugat writers at the venue… and they may come back to try the lunch menu as well.
Translated and edited by Fanni Kaszás from an article by Péter Csákvári