COMPANIES & STRATEGIES - INDUSTRY

Post-flood recovery

Restaurants struggle to reopen



Prime minister Xavier Bettel talks with Kamakura owner Hajime   Miyamae during his visit to the flooded Grund on Thursday 15 July.  Photo: SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

Prime minister Xavier Bettel talks with Kamakura owner Hajime Miyamae during his visit to the flooded Grund on Thursday 15 July.  Photo: SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

While some restaurants are reopening after the devastating flooding last week, others remain closed due to the extent of the damage they have suffered.

After what has been an extremely difficult 18 months, the last thing the hotel and catering industry needed was the torrential rain and floods that affected the grand duchy and neighbouring countries last week. For some establishments located in the worst hit areas, it is impossible to reopen for the moment, even with the prospect of a sunny week ahead.

Newcomers stopped dead in their tracks

The gradual emergence from the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic led to the opening of several new restaurants, such as the Comptoir Bohème in Cloche d’Or or the Koloquio pop-up in Neimënster in the Grund.

Koloquio was meant to be a friendly transitional space on the terrace allowing Neimënster to serve food and drinks until its own brasserie reopens in the autumn. Manager Kim Mathekowitsch says that his team will actually be able to serve diners as of this week and several events are scheduled at Koloquio. “But we have been forced to delay the whole interior project for the brasserie, because the water flooded in and we now have to change all of the parquet flooring. We are also located in a public cultural centre, so we have to consult the relevant authorities about this unplanned step,” says Mathekowitsch.

Flood waters from the Alzette poured onto the Neumünster Abbey courtyard and into the brasserie, forcing a delay in renovation work.  Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Flood waters from the Alzette poured onto the Neumünster Abbey courtyard and into the brasserie, forcing a delay in renovation work.  Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

In Gasperich, despite being on higher ground that one would imagine would be spared by the flooding, the brand new Comptoir Bohème, in the Vega building, was hit hard and suffered damage to its technical equipment just a few weeks after its opening. “We found ourselves with 80 centimetres of water in the entire restaurant,” operations manager Jérémy Pastre explains. “We did everything to save the furniture, but the basement and the car park were completely flooded and we had all our technical equipment there. The losses are enormous, there is a lot of damage to all the fridges, cold rooms, transformers, ovens… We are waiting for the experts to come and see us, but I don’t see how we can open before September.”

On the other hand, there has been some good news for the Maison Mazelier group, which owns the Comptoir Bohème. On Wednesday 21 July it is opening up a terrace on the freshly renovated Place de Paris opposite its Strogoff restaurant.

Big names not spared either

The images of place Dargent during the worst of the flooding were among the most spectacular last week, bad news for the Espaces Saveurs group, which owns the La Mirabelle and Sapori restaurants. The rapid rise of the water flooded dining rooms and equipment. Thanking his teams for their efforts in the face of the devastation, Espaces Saveurs director Dominique Colaianni said on Monday that the group was trying to welcome diners again as quickly as possible, without announcing a precise date.

Place Dargent was completely swamped by water last Thursday, like many places in the city and throughout the country. Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Place Dargent was completely swamped by water last Thursday, like many places in the city and throughout the country. Photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

Back in the Grund, Michelin-starred restaurant Mosconi will also remain closed for at least another week, even as its team has been working hard since Friday to clean up the place. The same thing happened just across the street at renowned Japanese restaurant Kamakura, part of whose ground floor was flooded.

A few yards away, Franz Dickes of wine bar Les Vins Fins is still shocked. “It’s a terrible ordeal to see one’s work washed away like that. With the help of volunteers we managed to completely empty our cellar on Saturday, but all the fridges are out of order… I’m going to do everything I can to open on Friday evening,” Dickes said, putting a brave face on things.

But it was not just the capital that was affected. Throughout the country the historic rainfalls have ruined what was already a difficult season for restaurant owners. Rachel Rameau’s De Pefferkär restaurant in Ellange saw her kitchen, all its equipment, and the renowned wine cellar flooded. But it will take more than that to knock down such a key figure in Luxembourg’s gastronomy scene. “We were able to open at the weekend with a lot of work from friends. We anticipated as much as possible, saved everything we could and managed to put everything back in order. We were lucky that the dining rooms themselves were not affected.”

This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.