Beuel · The owners of the floating Chinese restaurant in Beuel are looking for a buyer. For more than three decades, the ship, which is located south of the Kennedy Bridge, has been part of Bonn's cityscape.
The news has been making the rounds for a few days now and many people in Beuel are sad about it. Ocean Paradise, the floating Chinese restaurant on the banks of the Rhine in Beuel is being sold. The pagoda ship has been part of the silhouette of Beuel for a good three decades and is considered a meeting place for many people living along the Rhine.
Tenant Huan Zhang has been running the restaurant since 2004 and his lease is not up until 2023: "I will fulfill the contract, but after that, that's it for me. I am retiring," he says. Zhang is a modest man who is unfailingly friendly. Unfortunately, his children are not interested in taking over the business and a further ten-year extension of the contract is out of the question for him because of his age. He can imagine continuing for two to three years more at the most. For the 58-year-old, his decision is clear: "If the owner insists on a 10-year contract, I'll stop in 2023."
Concern that the vessel might be transported to England
Now there is great concern in the district of Beuel that a foreign investor could buy the China ship and transport it to England or the Netherlands. "This must be prevented at all costs. If necessary, politicians and business leaders must help to ensure that this landmark remains in Beuel," said Werner Koch, Chairman of the Beuel Trade Association.
A local solution would also be the most agreeable for the Schmitz family who own the vessel. "At the moment we see no other solution than to sell the ship," Angelika Schmitz told the GA. She and her brother Dieter own the China ship. In the coming years, some fundamental investments in the structure of the ship need to be made, but the siblings no longer want to take on that responsibility. "Our professional focus is mainly on our passenger ships and we would like to part with the China ship," explained Angelika Schmitz, whose fleet also includes the ferry Rhine-Nixe and the cruiser Moby Dick.
Is another Chinese restaurant owner interested?
The Schmitz family hopes that an operator of another Chinese restaurant in Bonn might be interested in the Ocean Paradise. They would like to see the ship stay in Bonn because of the family tradition. "My father bought the ferry in 1988 and saved it from the scrapyard. He had the ferry converted by Chinese craftsmen in Rotterdam. The Ocean Paradise was and is a matter close to his heart," explains Angelika Schmitz.
And what happens if they can’t find a buyer for the floating restaurant? "Then we will probably extend the lease with Mr. Zhang for one year at a time - until we have finally found a buyer," says Angelika Schmitz. They have been friends with the Zhang family for many years: “You couldn't wish for a better tenant.”
Anyone who has ever been on board the Ocean Paradise will certainly have noticed the large Koi aquarium in the entrance area. The ten fish made headlines across Germany last year when the city of Bonn received a complaint from a private person, alleging that the fish were not being cared for properly. The drama lasted several weeks until Germany's only state-approved Koi expert certified that the animals were in good health and were kept in a species-appropriate manner on board the ship. And what does Mr. Zhang intend to do with the fish when he retires? "I also have a private Koi tank. The fish will find a new home there," said Huan Zhang.
Orig. text: Holger Willcke