The municipality is looking for a new operator for the Riviera Café in Walchwil. The previous tenant has decided to leave because she cannot invest as much time in the evenings as would be necessary for success.
Renate Baur has been the tenant of the Riviera Café in Walchwil for two and a half years, but has now decided to terminate the contract from next March. “My goal has always been to create a feel-good atmosphere,” explains the tenant as she sits in the “Riviera” with local councillor (Gemeinderat) Willy Portmann and talks about the reasons for her departure. The municipality owns the café, and Willy Portmann is the head of the responsible department.
She recently realized that it’s difficult to keep the café running in a way that makes it economically viable. The event evenings with music and bands have always worked well and attracted a large audience. Just like the cultural events that were held on the Dorfplatz in front of the café and which attracted numerous customers to the café and to the terrace. “That went really well. The people of Walchwil were happy about such community-building events,” remembers the tenant.
She also sees a lot of potential for the café in this area. “In this respect, the 'Riviera' has made a name for itself,” says local councillor Willy Portmann in agreement. Clubs from Walchwil have also regularly got together in the “Riviera”.
Renate Baur shortly before the opening in 2021 Photo: Stefan Kaiser
Outside view of the Riviera café Photo: Riviera café
As a family person and mother, Renate Baur cannot imagine intensifying the events in the evenings over the long term and investing even more time in them. "The long time periods don't suit me personally; I want to spend the weekend evenings with my husband and the children," says the tenant, letting her gaze wander around the room.
Restaurateur with passion
Renate Baur took over the café in 2021 from Marco Zimmermann and Stefan Enzler, who terminated the contract after almost three years. At the time, neither of them wanted to give any information about the reasons. When Renate Baur became a tenant in 2021, she hoped that the café operation during the day would make up the majority of the business.
But her experience is different. “Sitting together over coffee and croissants is not that common here. Even the new or expectant mothers who sometimes attend courses in the church next door rarely meet here afterwards,” she says, and this despite the fact that the guests who do come usually feel very comfortable there. Willy Portmann also confirms this: “It’s a very homely atmosphere here and seems very inviting.”
Renate Baur regrets that it didn't work out for longer. Although she was not an experienced restaurateur, she really enjoyed the role and put her heart and soul into it.
The municipality will now advertise the tenancy of the “Riviera” and anyone interested can apply. According to Willy Portmann, the municipality does not provide any specific guidelines on how the business should be run. “We are also open to unconventional ideas,” he says.
“Full-blooded restaurateur” wanted
When asked for a tip for her successors, Renate Baur said that she would keep the bistro-style lunch menu. Soup, crêpes and raclette in Pfännli were previously available in the “Riviera”, for example. “Something that can be managed with only a few staff,” she explains. Although she didn't have any problems finding staff, she did experience some changes in the kitchen. “The demand at lunchtime was sometimes irregular, which is why planning in the kitchen was a challenge. So some chefs took other jobs in the catering industry or in the office.”
“It should not be forgotten that the Corona crisis is still affecting the catering industry today,” adds Willy Portmann. Finding staff is one difficulty, and the other is that the customer base has changed.
Despite the challenges and having to saying goodbye in March, Renate Baur can look back on her time in the “Riviera” with joy. “My goal was to create a place for the varied population in Walchwil. The first steps have been taken, now it’s up to a new tenant to continue pursuing the vision.” Willy Portmann and Renate Baur agree that it would be best if the new tenant was a “full-blooded restaurateur”. Because the “Riviera” needs someone who can invest a lot of time and can also keep the evening events alive.
Events are still planned in the “Riviera” up to March 2024. Information is available on the websitehttps://riviera-cafe.ch/.