Unlike the outdoor seating offered in the city's countless restaurant gardens (Gastgärten), Schanigärten can be set up on public spaces such as squares, pedestrian zones or sidewalks. However, they have to be close to the catering premises and leave sufficient space for passers-by. Between March 1 and November 15 there are around 2,500 sidewalk cafés to choose from in Vienna, weather permitting. Flower pots take the place of garden fences, with parasols providing cooling shade. These temporary bars are veritable oases of relaxation and are the ideal place to watch the world go by - people inevitably slow down to check out the scene and toy with the idea of taking a break, while the guests sit back and watch the world go by.
Vienna's first Schanigarten opened in 1754 when Johann Jakob Taroni set up a covered lemonade stall on the Graben in the old town. The term "Schanigarten" is thought to stem from this pioneer of the sidewalk café as Jean and its derivative Schani are Viennese diminutives for the name Johann. However, in those days apprentice waiters were also often referred to as "Jean" or "Schani". Many people believe that the term Schanigarten comes from the oft-repeated instruction: "Schani, take that out into the garden."