Mr Wieckhorst, what makes your restaurant “Luja” so special? What was your inspiration?
For eight years, I supervised large-scale caterers at a brewing company. And at some point, I started to wonder: why isn’t beer served where people actually drink it? That’s how I came up with the idea for “Luja”, an event restaurant where the guests serve the beer themselves – at their own tables, from a modern tap system.
What other reasons did you have for starting your own business?
I wanted to create something of my own and to prove that I had learned a lot by working in the food service business. In short: I do this because I know what my customers want.
Are the customers’ wishes the key to success in self employment?
Absolutely. You have to cater to your customers. Simply saying, “The beer here costs three euros, just like it does next door” won’t work.
“I wanted to be independent and professionally successful.” Was this your main driver for starting your own business?
Yes, the business should also turn a profit, of course. A nice concept is all well and good, but it needs to be able to survive in order for it to pay off.
What were the greatest challenges you faced in starting your own business?
Here in Germany, bureaucracy has to be one of the biggest hurdles. State liability insurance, grease traps, drain cleaner: I never could’ve imagined all the things I’d have to buy or take care of when I first started.
Is it true that it’s getting harder to find good employees?
It’s not easy, but there are certain factors that make the search easier. Infrastructure, for example: if you have a train station across the street, like we do, then employees can get to work more easily.
How important are reliable suppliers in the food service business?
Very important. Ideally, you will be able to procure everything you need from a single supplier. I can call him, and I know that he has everything I need – at fair prices, of course.
Given your experience, what tips would you offer people starting a business in the food service industry?
Be passionate about your work, find your unique selling point and make dining an experience for your guests. There are already plenty of places out there that just sell food and drinks.