Region Restaurateurs in the Rhein-Sieg district have been looking forward to this day for a long time: They are finally allowed to welcome customers again. The incidence rates in the district have been below the 100 mark for several days, which means that restaurants can now serve those who are vaccinated, recovered or have a negative test result. We were there.
Before the corona pandemic, what Stephanie Oltmanns from Niederkassel and her friend Dorothee Niklas from Swisttal did on Saturday lunchtime would have been nothing out of the ordinary. But during the pandemic it was something special. The two were out shopping in Rheinbach city centre and wanted to fulfil a most human wish, which, however, had to remain unfulfilled for a long time due to months of lockdown in the business world: Eating out - and not just takeaway food, which has been the only possibility up to now - but this time at a table in a pub or restaurant. On Saturday, Oltmanns and Niklas were finally able to enjoy this sorely missed pleasure once more.
Thanks to incidence rates of below 100 in the Rhine-Sieg district, eating out is allowed again. Even if initially only to an establishment with an outdoor seating area. This is the case at the Rheinbacher Brauhaus, and so Oltmanns and Niklas were able to enjoy a schnitzel with fries there. The joy was written all over their faces. The friends' pleasurable activity became a small part of history: Both are among the very first customers in the district to dine in a beer garden since the pubs closed in November.
There is no doubt about it: the weather at the weekend was not kind to those restaurant owners with outdoor space. Temperatures of around twelve degrees and often heavy rain tempted few people to make themselves comfortable in a beer garden on Saturday, for example. However, anyone who wanted to finally experience the feeling of sitting outdoors, perusing the menu and leisurely ordering a meal and a drink, and eating it right then and there had to search for a suitable location.
Many eating establishments were still closed in Bornheim, such as the "Vorgebirgsblick" in Merten with its beer garden. Tom Behr, leaseholder of the Herrenhaus Buchholz in Alfter, was waiting in the wings. Rain or shine - Behr was determined to open his outdoor terrace on Sunday. “Many of our regular customers are looking forward to it and will come,” says the restaurateur. However, it has been set up so that every customer provides proof that they have been “tested, vaccinated or recovered”.
The restaurant at the Kottenforst railway station in Lüftelberg is well-known for having plenty of regular customers pre-corona. Here the much-loved beer garden had already been open since eleven o'clock on Saturday. But the landlord Tobias Selz and his service team had long faces - by around 1 pm, not a single customer had turned up. Understandable though, as it was raining cats and dogs. Host Selz therefore hoped “for at least a gap in the rain on Sunday afternoon”.
In contrast, bounds of joie de vivre could be observed in front of the Italian restaurant La Campana on Meckenheim's main street. In the early afternoon, many tables in the outdoor area of the restaurant were occupied and service staff member Mehmet Ercosman had his work cut out serving them.
The Breitscheid family from Rheinbach had also been longing for this moment: “We are regular customers here and had called in the morning to see if there were any tables left,” reported father Ingo Breitscheid. That was the case, and for Ingo Breitscheid, wife Isabell and son Julian, it was clear: “We'll be right there.” At the table in front of the restaurant, the trio then tested out the cuisine: A schnitzel for Isabell Breitscheid, pasta for her husband and a pizza for son Julian, plus freshly tapped Kölsch, of course. “That was a taste explosion,” Ingo Breitscheid confessed. The plan for the evening also seemed to have been hatched. "First watch the 1st FC Köln game on TV and then maybe go back to the beer garden again in the evening.” To the one at the Rheinbacher Brauhaus - to eat out, of course.
(Original text: Axel Vogel, Translation: Caroline Kusch)