Opening American BBQ in Central/Eastern Europe

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Hi all, this is my first post on this forum. :)

 

I want to open a restaurant in Central/Eastern Europe, specializing in high quality American Southern cuisine and barbecue. The countries I'm looking at are: Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania. I'm aware of the difficulties of starting a business in some of these countries, but I don't want to rule them out without first doing some research.

 

The reason I've chosen these countries are:

1) I think my cuisine wouldn't be too foreign to you (there being a strong influence from Central/Eastern European immigrants)

2) I really want to live in your part of the world, preferably near a coast or some large lakes (I like boating and fishing).

 

The type of cuisine I'm talking about is rich, complex and usually quite economical. There's a lot of history and tradition behind it, and when it's done right it can compare to the best cuisines anywhere. (Notice I didn't say "better", I'm not trying to brag.) This is NOT the crap you may have had at one of our corporate chain restaurants. Most people outside of the US have no idea it exists (unlike, say, Italian or Chinese food), or just have a vague notion about it from the movies. I can say with all honesty that EVERY foreign visitor I've ever talked into trying it has been very pleasantly surprised.

 

So, here's the question: do you think an American has a chance in Germany, or is our reputation so bad that it wouldn't be worth the effort?

 

(And by the way, sorry about the all the bad food we've inflicted upon you. And Disneyland. But not Hasselhoff, that one's on you.)

 

Thanks, and Cheers :)

 

PS: that subtopic title should have been "Germany", not "Munich". Forgot to change it.

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(And by the way, sorry about the all the bad food we've inflicted upon you. And Disneyland. But not Hasselhoff, that one's on you.)

 

This is a forum mostly frequented by Amis, Brits, Irish and other native english speakers...ie expats. There are a few germans on here but not many.

 

 

Who uses the site

TT is read primarily by British, American, Canadian, Irish, Australian, Indian and South African citizens living in Germany. Anyone who can speak English to a native standard, regardless of nationality, is welcome to read and take part. As of June 2009 there are over 11,500 members active on the chat forum. See the list of currently active members. Many other people read the site without registering a membership. Although the grand total monthly readership is impossible to measure exactly, Google Analytics puts the figure at over 450,000. The total population of native English-speakers living in Germany is 230,000. See the map of member location

Anyway good luck. If you actualy believe there is large animosity towards amis I suggest coming to europe first . No offense.

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Welcome to Toytown. I dig your handle! When you say "high quality American Southern cuisine and barbecue" all sorts of foods come to mind: creole, cajun, soul food, gumbo, venison, turkey, pork tenderloins, angus steaks, cornbread, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, Texas style BBQ and so on, not to mention the fried, grilled and blackened seafood choices. None of these (in any authentic form) can be found anywhere near where I live (Dresden/Leipzig) grazing area. The challenge is going to be to retain some authenticity and taste using less spice, since the Germans don't like that much (based on Germans I know or have met and places I've eaten at). As a result, I've become a chef in my kitchen ;) In answer to your question "do you think an American has a chance in Germany, or is our reputation so bad that it wouldn't be worth the effort?" Regarding reputation, based on my experience, I don't think German food is that great and I don't think American food is that bad unless you're referring to fast food chains. The germans love pork and potatoes, period. Does your business model fit into this liking? If so, then you may stand a chance. Otherwise you may need to go to a bigger city like Munich or Berlin to experiment before branching out to rural areas. Just my two centavos. Good Luck Amigo!

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I could see it definitely working in Düsseldorf. There is a huge variety of different cuisines here--it would be well received. I think it has to do with a very international community. Frankfurt would also be a great place since it is a very English speaking city. I agree with Techsmex--Germans love their pork and potatoes. The cuisine is pretty bad. I also think you have a big issue in finding good beef here. You will probably have to use Argentinian since the German beef is pretty pathetic. Good luck!

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Raw materials shouldn't be a problem, all the required stuff's available here. I just made North Carolina pulled pork barbecue on the weekend myself. Collard greens I haven't seen, but there are reasonable substitutes. Well filé powder you'd have to import. You certainly can get good beef in this country too, you just have to know where to get it and pay the price. Restaurateurs have greater choices than laypeople in that regard anyhow.

 

I think Munich would be the best city for such a venture. We already have Rusticana which has good ribs, and Feuerberg, which is apparently American-owned, but has a PITIFUL excuse for barbecue on the menu -- they could use competition to up their game. The Big Easy needs competition too. And the American Chamber of Commerce is active here and we have a consulate. American stuff is really very popular here.

 

And besides, I live here. Just like JSD wants it in Düsseldorf because that's where he lives. ;)

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Yeah good beef is hard to find here. I know a Mexican guy up in Hamburg who doesn't serve any kind of beef dishes because nothing turns out right with shitty German rindfleisch.

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No way. Mannheim Heidleberg area would be a better choice for a start up venture. :rolleyes:

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Welcome to Toytown. I dig your handle! When you say "high quality American Southern cuisine and barbecue" all sorts of foods come to mind: creole, cajun, soul food, gumbo, venison, turkey, pork tenderloins, angus steaks, cornbread, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, Texas style BBQ and so on, not to mention the fried, grilled and blackened seafood choices. None of these (in any authentic form) can be found anywhere near where I live (Dresden/Leipzig) grazing area. The challenge is going to be to retain some authenticity and taste using less spice, since the Germans don't like that much (based on Germans I know or have met and places I've eaten at). As a result, I've become a chef in my kitchen  

 

Well I wouldn't recommend locating in the south of Germany at first. Only my perception, but the idea of an exotic restaurant here is Italian or even further afield, Greek. The Bavarians are not noted for their openness to new cuisines and ("Same procedure as last year, same procedure every year") in their traditions.

 

I perceive Berlin to be far more open than in the south so I'd look into locating there. I liked American food very much - on my 30th an American friend made me Jambalaya (now I know what that Carpenters song is about!) and I love Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

 

 

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Aye Gen you are right. Does colour my perceptions.

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Location, location, location. Don't go anywhere that doesn't have a customer base big enough and with enough disposable cash to support the operation. Munich would definitely do that with the right kind of menu.

 

As for boating and fishing, forget about it. You will be sorely disappointed in the pickings here. ;)

 

Which reminds me, forget about southern fried catfish. :(

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And besides, I live here. Just like JSD wants it in Düsseldorf because that's where he lives.

 

It sounds like Munich already has a glut of American restaurants. I am not sure there is a single one here. I could be wrong as I haven't lived here for very long. But, like Munich, there is a lot of money and the dining-out scene in pretty big, especially in the altstadt. There are many South American restaurants as well as a huge number of Japanese here. I think it would fit right in.

 

Actually, the OP should open up one in all the major cities. A mini-chain.

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As usual Gen beat me to the punch line... Rusticana is great for bar-b-que! Ans always busy. The story I was told was that is was opened by a GI and his German wife. She talked him into making his "famous" ribs and steaks for their customers. And as they say, the rest is history!

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Well I wouldn't recommend locating in the south of Germany at first. Only my perception, but the idea of an exotic restaurant here is Italian or even further afield, Greek. The Bavarians are not noted for their openness to new cuisines and ("Same procedure as last year, same procedure every year") in their traditions.

 

People say this all the time, however when I first came to Munich in 1986 there were maybe 3 Indian restaurants, there are now, according to Toytowns own list, 67! They can't all be surviving by relying on the expat business, German people must be going to them as well.

As an aside, German beef may be pretty poor, but Argentinian is readily available.

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Argentinian is not cheaply available, the restaraunts that serve it up here are generally not on the budget minded side, so its a question of economic feasability - will people be willing to pony up the extra cost for a BBQ place?

 

Also, the Gerrys will inevitably complain that the proper rubs, marinades, and sauces are 'zu scharf', so you will have to probably downgrade to nasty impure sweet sauces.

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I would suggest someplace close to a U.S. military base. You have the clientel who are familar with your product and missing good American style food. I live in the Stuttgart military community, and I know people who will make the 3 hour drive up to Ramstein just to eat at Chilli's. Yuck! My husband is constantly disappointed when we go out to eat and get a steak that is like leather.

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If you were to choose Munich, you'd have to get a decent location, and that would cost LOTS of money. Lots and lots. Then you'd have the banks banging on your door for their cash, and you would almost certainly have to compromise on doing the food you want, and adapt it to the local preferences - which, as one post has already touched upon, will mean replacing any kind of chilli with sugar in your sauces.

Even Heinz adapt their products for local taste; "standard" ketchup with the Heinz label tastes different in different countries.

I also think the cost of raw materials here might be a problem - people always talk about the crap quality of German beef, but in my opinion, even the pork here is not exactly fantastic quality a lot of the time. The pig welfare laws here are pretty low.

To get decent produce, you'd have to pay through the nose, which you'd have to reflect in your prices - and if there is one thing that Germans hate, it is spending money. Cheap=good here. Whenever I hear a local talking about a good place to eat, the reasons are almost exclusively based on how cheap the place is, or how large the portions are (which is the same thing really). Every year they throw their arms up in despair at the prices of a portion of spare ribs at the biergartens - there are newspaper articles each and every spring about what the price of spareribs has gone up to in various different biergartens. Quality is rarely, if ever, mentioned. Just price.

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It sounds like Munich already has a glut of American restaurants. I am not sure there is a single one here. I could be wrong as I haven't lived here for very long.

 

I have lived here for a long time and I do know my way around, I've been to all three that I named. I'm sure there are similar places in Düsseldorf already too, and I could link them for any city in Germany if I had time to research them. ;) All I'm saying is there is clearly a market for the product.

 

 

As usual Gen beat me to the punch line... Rusticana is great for bar-b-que!

 

They only have ribs though, and only one style. As the Don mentions, every beergarden here has ribs (Rips!) too, more or less good, but Rusticana's are the best I've had.

 

And all ethnic restaurants (here and in the US) get complaints about not being authentic enough -- I'd say don't dumb anything down, make it like you would at home. Let the Germans make the non-authentic stuff.

 

And don't try to beat other places on price. Just don't go that route. Plenty of expensive restaurants in town getting great reviews and doing great business -- they have higher quality food! Dare I mention how the TB tried to compete pricewise, reduced their quality, and failed?

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