Bonn The turnover generated from Christmas parties is the livelihood of most restaurant owners. But for years the celebrations have been getting smaller. Now there is the threat that they will be cancelled entirely. What does this mean for the hospitality sector in Bonn?
Reduced working hours, massive losses in sales, livelihoods threatened: The year of corona has no doubt presented everyone with unprecedented challenges. The hospitality industry has been particularly affected by the restrictions in force. While many restauranteurs barely had any money in the till during the lockdown in spring, now there is a threat of further massive losses. For many businesses and companies, plans for a staff Christmas party are on hold due to the incalculable developments in the pandemic.
For Sinisa Slavicek, big Christmas celebrations are already a thing of a past. "We have noticed that companies have been spending less and less money on such celebrations," says the manager of Haus am Rhein in Beuel. This year, however, there has been a significant slump. "We now only have around ten percent of the usual reservations," he says. He no longer reckons with plans for large parties at all. "But perhaps a few smaller groups will come," he says confidently. "We have to make the best of this situation. There's nothing else we can do.”
This year, the really big parties will not take place at Meyers in Poppelsdorf either. "They definitely will not happen," says manager Christine Hennemann. So far only small celebrations with a maximum of 20 people are planned. Christmas and end-of-year parties are a firm fixture at Meyers. "From mid-November to the end of January, they are our main source of income. This is turnover, which is now almost completely gone. But even with an entry in the restaurant's reservation book, not everything is cut and dried. "Bookings are accepted according to the current guidelines. We will phone everyone shortly before the reservation date and implement the measures that will then apply," says Hennemann.
Requests for company Christmas parties are still being made at the GOP Theater in Bonn. "At the moment everything is actually running as usual," says Josephine Scheufler. "But we are sceptical and expect that many reservations will be cancelled at short notice," she adds. Every day, she says, they ask the city about current developments and keep informed of the applicable regulations so that they can react immediately. "We have even significantly reduced our capacity and implemented the distance rules very generously," she says. Instead of the usual 438 seats, only just under 300 are currently being offered. "Christmas parties are a chance for us to survive. We got through the first lockdown. Now we have to see how things continue," says Scheufler.
Christmas reservations have also completely fallen off at Sonja's in Friedrichstraße. Companies had often reserved their parties with traditional Kesselskuchen and Kölsch one year in advance. "This year, there is no such thing at all," says restaurant owner Sonja Reul. Only small bookings for four to six people are currently available. "We'll have to come to terms with this." Despite Corona, there's one thing she won't do without this year: "Of course I'll have great Christmas decorations again. I'll put them up for my guests and of course for me too.”
Gasthaus Nolden in Endenich has also had to cancel its Christmas parties completely. "In the past we always had many reservations for our large event room. But this year there is not a single one," reports Sabine Nehrkorn. The traditional restaurant is also focusing on the celebrations at the end of the year. "We have always propped up the summer business with this." There are also losses in turnover at the skittle alley in the Gasthaus. Only enquiries for the traditional goose dinner are currently being received. "But also only hesitantly", said Nehrkorn. She hopes that at least a few more small groups will register. "But the really big celebrations will certainly not take place this year."
(Original text: Gabriele Immenkeppel, Translation: Caroline Kusch)