Grøften has always had many exciting regulars and Palle Huld was one of them. Palle was an adventurer of the good old kind! In 1928, he won a round-the-world trip in a newspaper competition. Palle set off – by train and ship and traveled around the world in 44 days. Once back home, he wrote a book about his amazing journey, the book was translated into many languages, TinTin's creator Hergé probably read the book and it is assumed that the basis for the popular Belgian cartoon character was thereby laid.
Balloon captain Lauritz Johansen was an enterprising and daring man and extremely popular in his time. In 1890, Johansen bought his very own hot air balloon, called it "Perch" and thrilled Tivoli's guests for the rest of the season with ascents from Haven. On his first trip he landed north of Malmö. All in all, the landings were something of a gamble, as Luftskipper Johansen had not learned how to maneuver the balloon - he only learned that later, after a number of serious accidents. Air captain Johansen made a total of 117 ascents, most from Tivoli. He knew how to vary the show: he ascended standing on the bottom rung of a swinging rope ladder under the balloon, he ascended with electric lights and accumulators in the gondola, he hung fireworks under the gondola and set them off when he got into the air or he simply stood on one leg on the edge of the gondola and waved his gold-trimmed cap to the cheering crowd.
When Tivoli acquired the huge yellow tethered balloon "Montebello", Air captain Johansen signed himself up as captain. The Montebello could lift 15 people and there were three types of trips: one to a height of 350 feet, which cost DKK 1, one to a height of 500 feet, which cost DKK 3, and one to a height of 1,000 feet, price: DKK 5. There were in moreover, a telephone line was pulled into the cable that connected Montebello to the ground - so you could make the necessary calls from high above the city - only 15 years after the first telephone came to Denmark.
In 1900, Air captain Johansen took over Grøften and, under his excellent management, turned it into an arch-Copenhagen gathering place for the city's celebrities. The airman put one of Grøften's signature dishes, skipper labskovs, on the map, where it can still be found today.
While the air captain made balloon ascents and at the same time was a restaurateur in Grøften, he also had no less than four books published. The most notable were To the North Pole in a Balloon (not that the Air captain had made this trip) and Under and Above the Atmosphere, which is about the hunt for a treasure at the bottom of the Øresund, but with a leap of the more surprising ones, the action suddenly moves to the planet Mars.
Today,the yard in Grøften is adorned by "Spjæt's" beautiful hot air balloon lamps from 1974 - hung 100 years after Grøften's first opening day.
Grøftens original premises called Teater Cafe, opened in 1874 at the same time as the Pantomime Theatre. Due to the location in a small depression/ditch, the Café quickly gained the more popular nickname "Grøften" meaning the Ditch.
The good people of the pantomime as well as Tivoli's musicians used Grøften as their home from the beginning. Here at the hostess Madam Meyer's you could buy hot sausages, which her lush Swedish mother cooked, but most guests brought their own packed lunches.
The Theater Café originally consisted of two small rooms and some gazebos. The original two rooms have been preserved and can still be visited in today's Teater Café, where they form the front rooms. On the wall you will find the pantomime actors' original make-up mirrors and rich decorations with old photos and trinkets from a bygone era. The pantomime theater's dressing room is still located today in the Café's attic and in the corner you can see the stairs, from which you can hear the actors running up and down to and from the stage. The front large round window was the original entrance. If you look carefully in the outer wall just outside the original entrance, you will find a small secret door. It leads into Pjerrot's dressing room and through this the good Madam Meyer could serve Pjerrot the beers he needed before and after a performance.