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End for rare beers: Friesdorf drinks retailer P&M Getränke closes down

End for rare beers : Friesdorf drinks retailer P&M Getränke closes down

The long-established Bad Godesberg beverage retailer P&M Getränke has to vacate its warehouse due to fire safety regulations. This was preceded by a long dispute between the owner, the landlord and the city of Bonn.

Eike Weimann is one of the regular customers who does not want to miss Thomas Görtz's P & M Getränke GmbH on Elsässer Straße in Bad Godesberg. What Weimann appreciates so much: "The product range here is already special, not off the peg, so to speak." Weimann swears by the selection of beers from Franconian and Bavarian private breweries, for example. Soon, however, he will have to reorient himself because Görtz is quitting.

Yet the selection in the 53-year-old's shop is large: he sells beers from Great Britain, the Baltic States, the Netherlands and Belgium, to his knowledge the "largest beer nation in the world". A special treat on the shelf: sour beer from the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, whose limited supply capacities drive up prices on the secondary market: Thomas Görtz reports that a bottle of sour beer costing 20 Euro can sometimes find a buyer there for 325 Euro.

The lynchpin of the dispute is an unused passageway

In addition to the unusual beer products, the Godesberg beverage market has also made a name for itself with the wine trade set up by Thomas Görtz's father Manfred. There is now equally bad news for both the wine and beer regulars of the shop. At the end of the year, Görtz will close his long-established drinks market. Not because of Corona, because there he would rather count himself among the winners of the pandemic. The beverage retailer has a lot of trouble, both with his landlord and the city of Bonn. The dispute is mainly about fire safety regulations.

The lynchpin of the dispute is a previously unused passageway in the large commercial complex on Elsässer Straße, where Thomas Görtz runs his beverage market of about 800 square metres. And he has been doing so for over 30 years: His Father Manfred Görtz had taken over the business here in 1986 as managing director for two beverage wholesalers.

Escape room lacked an escape route in case of fire

Since the beverage trade grew rapidly and since the beginning of the 1990s son Thomas Görtz expanded the beer division considerably, a problem soon arose: Görtz needed more space for his warehouse. So he came up with the idea of using the unused lorry passageway, which is closed with two roller shutter doors. This subsequently happened silently for about 20 years "with the permission of the landlord", as the 53-year-old emphasises.

However, the use of the passage as a warehouse became a problem when a businessman wanted to operate an Escape Room in the basement of the complex. This is a thematic room in which players have to solve puzzles in a prescribed time. But during an inspection with the city, which was necessary for a change of use, it turned out that an escape route or emergency exit was missing for the Escape Room in case of fire. The same was true for a dance school also located in the building.

However, a possible escape route was quickly identified: It was to lead via the basement stairs through the passageway used by Görtz for storage. However, since the city of Bonn considered the passage to be full of potential fire loads, Görtz was quickly ordered to clear out his makeshift storage facility: more precisely, about 80 to 90 pallets of water and beer as well as household goods and two motorbikes.

Transit should be cleared within twelve days

Thomas Görtz now had a big problem ad hoc because he did not know where to put the stock from the drive-through. "I had also offered the city to install a firewall in the passageway at my own expense." That way he could have continued to use one part as storage and the other part would have served as an escape route. But the city did not agree to this. It also failed to examine alternative escape routes, he criticises. Instead, Görtz was asked to vacate the passageway within twelve days.

Since this request had landed with the landlord and the applicant for the Escape Rooms and, according to Görtz, had been lying there unprocessed for six days without him being aware of it, he still had a whole six days to evacuate. This was only achieved by a show of strength and the support of the friendly haulage company Zack from Niederkassel. "They provided us with a mobile container." In addition, Görtz bought a trailer. But that doesn't help the entrepreneur in the long run: "We still have a space problem.“

Landlord left enquiry about the situation unanswered by the time of going to press

The conditions imposed by the city, which were perceived as a "nuisance", as well as the less than accommodating behaviour of the landlord were the deciding factors in Thomas Görtz's decision to close his beverage shop at the end of November after consulting his father and brother: "I simply don't want to do it any more. The landlord left an enquiry about the facts unanswered by the time of going to press, as did the city of Bonn.

(Original text: Axel Vogel / Translation: Mareike Graepel)