The Office of Economic Development of the city of Düsseldorf concedes that it also had a lot to learn about the hospitality industry and its needs. Events such as this panel contribute to a better mutual understanding, according to Theresa Winkels, who heads the office for economic development. For Theresa Winkels, the situation is clear: ‘We want to promote hospitality businesses and actively create space for innovative restaurateurs in Düsseldorf.’ She goes on to say that the many restaurants, bars and cafes are a vital element of the city’s appealing lifestyle. Initiatives by the Office for Economic Development can alsocontribute to digitalising the industry. She emphasises that, without owner-managed retail stores and restaurants, every city loses its charm.
This year, Düsseldorf has supported the hospitality industry with additional outdoor areas – and has now extended the licence to operate them. Furthermore, the city has suspended the originally planned ban on the use of patio heaters. This is a huge step forward for the local administration – and exactly the kind of concrete support that a city can provide. But, for restaurateur Rapp-Schwan, this does not go far enough: ‘As a restaurateur, I can make it as comfortable as possible when it’s rainy and cold outside, but I still might not find anyone willing to dine outside. . .’ She says that major investments have to be made in outdoor areas to make them viable over the longer term but points out: ‘We are also working with a limited budget.’ In addition, she notes that there is a lack of clarity for such investments. The same holds true for indoor air purifiers: ‘Here we need clear statements from politicians that these purchases make sense, and we need a message to the public to be confident about their personal safety.’ To avoid waiting for the authorities to send this signal, Rapp-Schwan recently had her restaurants certified by TÜV Rheinland, making her one of the first business owners in Germany to achieve this standard of hygiene and infection protection. After all, confidence is the greatest asset these days.