The Death of a Restaurant…

The Death of a Restaurant…

I would think that when most people see this headline, they usually get a picture in our minds of a restaurant going out of business. This restaurant may actually be doing quite well — I’m not really sure. The story here takes on a different tone.

The ‘Löwen’ is a small restaurant in the town of Neureut, near Karlsruhe. It really is what we would call a ‘Gasthaus’, which normally implies a neighborhood restaurant. It is mostly filled with locals, and there is often what is referred to as a ‘Stammtisch’. A Stammtisch is a table that is reserved for a core of locals that come on a regular basis, often the same day, at the same time. You can sit at the table until the group comes, then you better hope there is another spot available for you. The other aspect, (and the most important for me), of these Gasthäuser is the fact that most of the food that is served is of the local region. This is where the crux of the problem lies.

My cousin Tanja lives in Neureut, and for the last 6 years I have been going to the Löwen whenever I’m in town. Sometimes, depending on the timing of my trips, I might eat there several times within a year. I think it is rather evident that I liked this restaurant!

Last night I ate at the restaurant for the first time since new owners took over about a year ago. The food was excellent, service great and I even had a semi-traditional German meal. Well… what then is the problem? The menu has taken on a much more international flair. Even the traditional meal that I ordered had a nouveau aspect to it, which is normally not an issue with me, but not welcomed here. The motif has also gone through an update, to a cleaner, more modern feel, and now void of the warm, welcoming feel it use to impart. Before, this place always represented a piece of Germany that I couldn’t have back in the States. The interior might have been kitschy, and the food may not have been really that good (though I was always a happy camper), but it was real, and a piece of German tradition that seems to be disappearing. The new version of the Löwen feels like a restaurant I could find anywhere in the world, and for that I am saddened. Was für eine Schande!

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