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#emptyrestaurants: numerous eateries to remain closed for Friday's restart

13.05.2020 | 08:13 Clock | Culinary
#emptyrestaurants: numerous eateries to remain closed for Friday's restart

Actually, gastronomic establishments will be allowed to reopen in Hesse starting Friday, May 15. Actually. In Frankfurt, however, numerous establishments will remain closed, as it is not economically viable to open them due to the requirements decided by the state. Madjid Djamegari, chairman of the Initiative Gastronomie Frankfurt e. V. (IGF), is not really happy about the new relaxations, which only sound good on paper, but are not feasible in reality for those affected: "With the current regulations for the reopening of the gastronomy in Hesse, the policy gambles away the chance to enable the gastronomy with a sustainable concept an economically justifiable restart", says Djamegari. The IGF is therefore calling for the #leerelokale action on Friday, in which many Frankfurt businesses will not open their restaurant, at least on that day, out of solidarity.

"The elaborate, but sensible hygiene measures, the training of employees regarding the Corona rules of conduct and the distance rules to meet, are not the problem here," says Madjid Djamegari, adding further: "There is a lack of economic perspective to restart, especially due to the <x>ampersand</x>sbquo;5sqm rule', the lack of binding prospects and the still unresolved but much needed bailout for the industry."

The "5sqm rule", which exists only in Hesse, is a limit on the number of people allowed in a restaurant, regardless of the applicable spacing rules. The IGF cites a few examples to illustrate why it is such a nuisance for restaurateurs: for example, a restaurant with a guest room of 100 square meters is only allowed to serve 20 guests at a time. In "normal" times, many landlords can accommodate 70 to 80 people in this space, depending on the seating concept. Another example: If two households, each with two adults and two children, sit together at a table in a restaurant with 100 sqm of guest space, which is currently permitted, the table for these eight people takes up an area of approximately 10 sqm. On the remaining 90 square meters then only twelve persons may be entertained.

"This rule is arbitrary and nonsensical", stresses Madjid Djamegari, "it disadvantages in particular the many small businesses, bars, pubs and cider houses". Yet, just these businesses, which are run with a lot of heart and soul, are particularly worth protecting. Djamegari is disappointed by the federal state government: "Minister of economy Tarek Al-Wazir is said to have vehemently insisted on this rule. Why Hesse is the only federal state with such a rule is nowhere explained; the Minister of Economics also owes a scientific explanation." An emergency appeal against this rule is currently being considered.

"We strongly advise our member companies to review their business calculations," said Matthias Martinsohn, board member of the IGF. "It must be clear to every entrepreneur that an economically viable restart based on these rules is the exception rather than the rule for businesses. In most cases, the loss will be higher when the businesses open than if they remained closed." Finally, costs would remain at 100 percent. Rents that have been deferred to date would be due again and staff, 95 per cent of whom are currently on reduced hours, would have to be paid their full salaries again.

"The costs of running restaurants are often underestimated," says James Ardinast, IGF board member, adding, "At an occupancy rate of around 80 percent, the break-even point is reached; for some restaurants, the threshold is even higher because of the high fixed costs." The rules now in place allow for a maximum occupancy of 30 to 40 percent, mind you, with double occupancy in the evening. "If this is possible at all, because many guests are still anxious, demand will start slowly for now," Ardinast assesses the situation.

What particularly annoys the restaurateurs of the IGF is the fact that the headlines suggest to the guests that things are now looking up again for the gastronomy. But this is far from being the case: "Many guests only read the headline, namely that the gastronomy is allowed to reopen. They don't get the small print, i.e. the conditions of the restart," says Madjid Djamegari. The restaurateurs feel deliberately abandoned by the government in Wiesbaden. Because even if the possibility for the reopening of the catering trade could be evaluated as indication positively, the reality looks evenly differently: There are still no perspectives in this industry. The wave of insolvencies will not be stopped if politicians cannot quickly come up with practical solutions and financial aid. In Baden-Württemberg, concrete proposals are already being publicly discussed. Other federal states are also much further along in their deliberations in this regard. Why this is not possible in Hesse, we do not understand."

The political direction of march meets with complete incomprehension. "Driving by sight was certainly the right thing to do in the first few weeks, but a roadmap is now needed for the future," says Ardinast. "Our employees, who have had to make do with 60 percent of their net income for two months, are right to demand information about how things will continue." The IGF is also demanding a binding roadmap for clubs and discos that remain closed.

And so the industry will stand together again next Friday to launch the next action, #leerelokale, after #leerestühle, #restartgastro and #gekommenumzubleiben. "The future of the restaurant industry and its 2.4 million employees is close to my heart," said Goran Petreski, board member of the IGF and operator of the restaurants Blaues Wasser and VaiVai. "The state government in Hesse will fail with its obvious attempt to torpedo solidarity within the industry with these regulations." Also in its enterprises the stoves remain cold on Friday.

These are the concrete demands of the IGF:

1. Abolition of the 5qm rule. Discussion of a sensible limit on the number of guests using spacing rules

2. Rescue fund for the industry. NOW!

3. Binding roadmap for the next opening steps in the restaurant industry! Local status review on the basis of the rule <50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants

4. Possible solutions in the discussion about the participation of landlords in the damage caused

5. Unbureaucratic, immediate possibility of increasing patio area at local level

6. Proportionate waiver of rent where municipality/county is landlord

7. Waiver of special use fee for summer patios in 2020 at local level

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