|Bärengasse 16, CH-8001 Zürich|
Bärengasse ('bear alley') is a few hundred metres from Paradeplatz, a monumental 19th-century square, home to the rival banks UBS and Credit Suisse, whose headquarters face off against each other across the open space.
Being so close to the headquarters of the two largest swiss banks, and even closer to Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich's Fifth Avenue, the make up of the clientele who snake backwards from the tills at lunchtime holding their ready-packed salads, sandwiches and chäschuchli is no surprise. What is a surprise, however, to the uninitiated, is their favourite lunchtime game: queue-jumping.
There are four tills at the front of the shop with space for two queues to form behind yellow lines with 'Please wait here' written, in English, on the floor. Maybe the signs should be written in German, because waiting is the last thing most people do. If you wait there behind the rear tills, and there are less than three people standing in line before the front tills, people will walk from behind you and use the front tills before you get a chance to move. To the average British person used to each taking his turn, this can feel shockingly rude but it's a game everyone plays. Special admiration is reserved for the person who can start at the back of a queue of over twenty people and miraculously be the next one served!
Another nod to the Bärengasse COOP's location next to the international business district, is its English Food section. Here, business Brits can enjoy such delicacies as Marmite, Oxo cubes and my personal favourite, pickled onions, at stellar (indeed astronomical) prices.