Bonn. Time and again, young people living in Bonn complain about the dying pub and bar scene in the city. But some new places have moved in within the last couple years, giving it a little big-city flair. Here’s an overview.
Another pub closes in Bonn - a message heard not seldom in recent years. A difficult pill to swallow for the passionate pub-goer who meets with colleagues and friends every Friday for that after-work beer in the local pub. But now there are alternatives, especially for younger people, who want a bit of big-city flair in additon to the cozy traditional pubs. Some exciting establishments have appeared on the Bonn gastronomy scene in the past few years.
One example is The Old Jacob which opened in 2016. As the name implies, it is "very British". The concept is reflected not only in the stylish furnishings, but also in the high quality of the drinks and the corresponding price range.
Owners Sue and Sembo Amirpour didn’t want to let their establishment become a typical student bar. For them, “quality first” is their motto. Instead of offering a cheap buzz, the young bartenders mix only high quality brands of alcohol in the drinks. Prices for cocktails cost between nine and 14 euros. Holger Böckmann, who writes the Blog "We love Pubs" says this attracts mostly young people with deep pockets. In his blog, he writes about what’s happening in the bar and pub scene in Bonn.
Also in 2016, Sue and Sembo Amirpour opened their bar “The Oxford” with a similar concept to “Old Jacob.” But “The Oxford” is being redone, and should reopen on March 16 under the new name “Jacob’s Playground” with a new coat of paint and new concept.
Bar with a view in the UN district
Konrad's Skybar on the 17th floor of the Bonn Marriott World Conference Hotel, which opened in 2016, is even more upscale - and in the truest sense of the word - in the UN district. The cocktail prices of 14 to 15 euros are dizzying for a student wallet. However, the prices are also related to the high quality of exotic drinks. A fresh beer from well-known breweries or a good wine can also be found here.
When it comes to the view, Konrad's Skybar rates probably second only to the Post Tower and the main building of the United Nations in Bonn. All-round windows offer impressive views of the Rhine, the city and the Seven Mountains. On a clear day you should even be able to see the Cologne Cathedral. Visitors are typically international guests in the UN district, but Bonners also likes to come here.
More potential for UN and international bar scene
"Siegfried Büro & Bar" opened in 2017 in the Bonn Music Quarter. Here, guests can find a bar and office all in one. Managing directors Raphael Vollmar and Gerald Koenen open their office doors on Thursdays from 6pm to midnight. Vollmar said they don’t have a “door policy” so no one is rejected because of their age or appearance. He said the result is “an amazing composition of clientele”, which feeds on regulars and new arrivals, from age 18 to 80.
With the name Siegfried, the directors are less known for their bar than the development of the first Bonn gin, Siegfried Rheinland Dry Gin. At the same time, with the demand for office space, the idea grew to connect the customer to their own brand in a different way than through the usual distribution channels. A bar was the obvious choice, says Vollmar. The drink menu is designed accordingly: Mainly different variations of gin & tonic are offered, along with a few cocktails, wine and craft beer. The prices are between nine and 14 euros.
A bar is "a place of communication and encounters," which is also suitable for business meetings, explains Vollmar. Vollmar and Koenen see their bar more as a "hobby-gastronomic activity". They did not want to compete with Bonn restaurateurs. But Vollar is convinced that the Bonn scene could easily support another three bars which are open every day. He says “The bar culture has not yet arrived in Bonn.” He sees much more potential, especially for the many “young professionals”, employees of the UN and other international organizations in Bonn. Holger Böckmann of “We love pubs” gives a similar assessment. He is convinced that quality bars with stylish interior design and offering regional products, would be well received. But he says, “For the size of the city, Bonn’s bar scene is in good shape.”
Industrial look and focus on vegan/vegetarian
For students with a smaller budget, the offer has become thinner, especially in the Südstadt (south Bonn). But in the Altstadt (old town), there is something new. The Steinbeck moved in to the former Billa-Bonn on Breite Straße at the end of October, 2017. The mix of bar and pub in industrial look appeals to the young and students with its wide range of drinks. There are 14 varieties of gin and an extensive whiskey and beer selection. Football fans can watch games on SKY.
Café Frida also welcomed its first guests in December of 2017. The name obscures the fact that this is also a bar, open until midnight. It offers regional products, among them a craft beer of the Bonn brand Ale Mania. Many of the food and drinks are prepared with organic brands, and there is a growing focus on vegan and vegetarian products. Much effort was also put into the creative and colorful interior, which boasts a "mix of classic café and cool bar," writes Holger Böckmann on his blog.
Big hurdles for restaurateurs in Bonn
The Billa-Bonn will open again in the Altstadt, this time on Wolfstraße in the former Chimera, explains Böckmann. It will close soon on Rheingasse.
Böckmann believes the hurdles are high for those who want to open a new establishment in Bonn. The rededication of areas on which there was previously no gastronomic operation is costly and consuming from a bureaucratic standpoint. Especially those who want to start a small bar would find it difficult.
No-smoking laws pose unresolved problems because guests go outside to smoke and there are noise complaints from local residents. Böckmann sees the city needing to catch up on addressing this matter. Agreements should be made between local residents and the local establishment, because provisions of the usual curfew of 10 pm are difficult to meet in inner cities where nightlife and residential areas overlap.
Do you know any other pubs that have opened in Bonn in recent months? Send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Orig. text: Charlotte Pekel