New restaurants How young restaurateurs in south Bonn are defying the crisis
Bonn · In Bonn's Südstadt district, young restaurateurs have opened new establishments despite the crisis. We asked them why they dared to take this step, and about the concepts for their restaurants.
Especially in times of crisis like these, opening a business needs to be carefully considered. "Actually, I always said I didn't want to start my own business before I was 30," says Lars Treuheit (29). But then the opportunity came: to have Ingo Siefert, an "old hand" as a business partner, along with the right restaurant and an idea for a concept. In June, the two opened the Südlage wine bar on Arndtstrasse: modern furnishings, a wine-red lounge, indirect lighting and, of course, lots of wine bottles on the shelves.
Siefert and Treuheit have been working in the restaurant business for some time. As co-workers at Schuhmann's restaurant, the two became friends. "During Corona, the question arose: What's next?" says Treuheit, who became interested in wine while working at the Weinkommisar on Friedrichstrasse.
The decision to open a wine bar was made less for emotional reasons and more for business reasons, says Ingo Siefert. He used to run a restaurant and has seen many restaurateurs fail. But with the right considerations, he says, you don't necessarily have to take a big risk by opening a business. "You have to consider what's practical to implement and, of course, fun to do," Siefert says. That's where they came up with wine and coffee, says business partner Treuheit. "Wine in general has made an incredible push in recent years," he says. And, "wine is basically higher up in the price segment." This "luxury good" can appeal to a less price-sensitive audience, he says.
The choice of location also played an important role. Siefert would not have opened a wine bar in the Altstadt (Old Town), he says. In Südstadt (south Bonn), he says, there is the right clientele. Besides that, the two have a circle of friends and acquaintances here, says Treuheit. Another advantage is that the space had been empty for two years before they took it over. So the restaurateurs didn't have to pay a transfer fee.
Renovation of the space was like a marriage contract
Starting in November, the partners renovated the premises. "We did a lot ourselves," Treuheit explains. The remodel was a bit like a prenup, he says. "Every part was coordinated by both of us." June 15 was opening day, they did it without a big announcement. "It's going mega, we can't complain," Treuheit says. "The guests are super pleasant, polite, like equals. No one gets too rambunctious. I could sit down with anyone and have a conversation.”
Siefert takes care of the food, such as a platter with salami, olives, and the like, while Treuheit is responsible for the wine. The menu features mainly German wines, but also some from France or Italy, and the price range is wide. People who don’t know much about wine are also expressly welcome in the wine bar, says Treuheit. He is not (yet) a sommelier himself, but has studied wine a lot and loves to surprise guests. That's why there's a "blind tasting" offer on the menu, in which Treuheit puts a wine in front of the customers that he himself finds intriguing.
Instagram moment at the bar Südstadt Affe
Marc Philip, owner of the Südstadt Affe bar a few meters away is all about doing something eye-catching for his customers. He has used the lockdowns to turn the sports bar Butcher's into a cocktail bar. To do this, everything was torn out - from the ceiling to the tiles in the restroom, Philip says. Numerous plants entwine themselves on beams and lamps throughout the high-ceilinged space, which is illuminated by warm light. "All the plants are real," Philip says. The restaurant owner wants to follow through with the concept down to the smallest detail. Jungle sounds play in the restroom. "This has to be an Instagram moment here. The eye must never be bored," says Philip, who wants to appeal to a young audience in particular. There are classic cocktails and creations like an espresso martini to go with them.
Philip grew up in his father's restaurant and studied business administration after completing a commercial apprenticeship. He got to know the sports bar Butcher's through a poker night with friends and took it over four years ago. "My dream was always to have my own living room," Philip says. "I've made everything so that I like it, and funnily enough, the customers like it, too."
New concept, new customers
As the space, name and concept changed, so too did the clientele, Philip says. "Before, this was a sports bar, with soccer on TV’s everywhere and patrons yelling at me that they wanted another beer," the bar owner says. The new clientele is mixed, from 18- to 80-year-olds, he says.
There are always "quiet days," he says, but with inflation, the bar owner is not yet feeling a stark drop in sales. On Sundays and Mondays, it is closed. The biggest problem, according to Philip, is the lack of staff. Currently, he has two temporary employees. "I used to have nine employees fighting over hours," the restaurateur says. For private parties, he works with a cook, with whom he is currently also considering what dishes he can offer in his bar on a regular basis.
(Original text: Christine Ludewig / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)