An uncomfortable stew is brewing, which the innkeepers and their guests can also find in Schopfheim: Seriously more expensive ingredients such as vegetables, dairy products and oil, rising energy prices and, to top it all off, the resurgent corona uncertainty contribute to the fact that many restaurateurs currently feeling a great deal of uncertainty. The guests are already aware of it through the increased prices – but it will hardly remain so.
“20 percent? That won’t be enough.” Karl Rehm stood behind the counter in the “Kleines Eck” and frowned, “The cheese for the cordon bleu alone has become twice as expensive.” The Edam that Rehm packs in his kitchen together with the ham between the flattened pork schnitzel before he breads the whole thing and bakes it in the pan – “now it’s more expensive than the meat”. In the Kleines Eck, the cordon bleu is a flagship, many guests come to the restaurant on the corner of Feldbergstrasse and Himmelreichstrasse just for that reason. “It costs 19 euros now,” says the landlord.
The ingredients – not only for the schnitzel filled with cheese and ham – have skyrocketed in recent months – thanks to the general energy and transport crisis, which was partly caused by the Ukraine war. “Dairy products and especially oil have become much more expensive. And you can’t really get fresh tomatoes anymore.” So far, Karl Rehm has been able to moderate the price increase for the guests. “We made the lunch menu one euro more expensive,” he says.
But it will hardly remain so. Gas is used for cooking in the Kleines Eck, the guest room wants to be heated from autumn and Karl Rehm does not even want to talk about the current rapidly rising electricity costs. The energy costs, which are expected to be very high everywhere in Germany in the autumn, will force some hosts to take drastic measures – in the pricing on the menu. “20 percent”, repeated Karl Rehm, “will not be enough”.
Francesco Romano, owner of the “Toscana” pizzeria in the old town, often has a wrinkled forehead, mainly because the Italian has a characteristic facial expression. These days, however, he also has worry lines. Key word tomatoes: “You can hardly find them at wholesalers anymore. And then they cost a lot more. Five euros a tin of peeled tomatoes. It’s not normal anymore.” And this in a pizzeria that relies on tomatoes more than any other to get Italian and Mediterranean cuisine on the plate.
The first visible sign in the “Toscana”: The lunch menu, an offer popular with many working people in Schopfheim, has been canceled without replacing it. “We can no longer afford it,” says Francesco Romano. And the prices on the menu have already risen – now just a pizza costs less than ten euros. “Nobody wants to scare off their guests and we don’t pass on every increase in price to the guests,” says Romano. “But we have no choice but to change the prices.”
“It will have to be more expensive everywhere,” admits Hans Glöggler. “You have to think about every single price.” The landlord of the eponymous restaurant on the cattle market and also chairman of the Schopfheim hosts’ association has an ear for the industry representatives in the city. “Of course, if we sit together, the topic is discussed,” says Glöggler. “You can get most of the ingredients again, but everything is more expensive.” In February, he himself bought and stored 1,200 liters of cooking oil with foresight – he can currently draw on the stock. The overall situation is depressing for the hosts. Most taverns cook with gas, some with induction cookers – some are afraid of the scary rise in petrol prices, others are getting gray hairs because of the electricity price.
“You see it everywhere, I observed it on holiday,” says Hans Glöggler. “Some have already opened, others are still waiting.” No one can remain inactive: “If you just look at the price of veal, it easily went up by 20 percent. In a very short time. And who knows what else will come.”
According to Hans Glöggler, after a summer that was really encouraging for the restaurateurs, there is still no sign of reluctance among the guests. “But as soon as everything becomes more expensive, people will become more skeptical and maybe eat less.” Added to that is the uncertainty caused by the Corona situation: “You just don’t know what’s coming,” says Glöggler. The hosts are – key word catering – also dependent on the event industry. “At the moment, for example, nobody plans a company event in December because it can be canceled again in October,” points out Hans Glöggler.
Despite all the dark predictions, the head of the inn association still has an optimistic, almost philosophical view of the current woes. “It can’t always go up. It’s a phase in which everything calms down again,” says the host. “You sit down and think about a lot. When you think about how the festivals were. It almost never came to an end.” Key word Fasnacht: “For many, Fasnacht was nothing anymore. When this happened, most of them had already been to Ischgl twice. Maybe you will learn from us again to appreciate the value of things a little more.”
According to the Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga), the catering and hotel industry is heading for a difficult autumn. Reasons include rising energy and food prices. It is feared that consumers will skimp on dining out and holidays. Added to this is the already large shortage of personnel in the hospitality industry. Companies are already limiting their opening hours and cutting the lunch menu.