Thomas Metzmacher must be creative to keep his business open in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic.
After playing with the idea of a delivery service, he turned a half-timber restaurant in Frankfurt into an emergency drive-thru.
“The restaurant must be closed, no one is allowed to sit inside again, so give up or fight,” he said. “I decided to fight.”
Metzmacher was faced with the prospect of having to close his traditional German restaurant that specializes in traditional tart juice because German regulations prohibit groups of people from gathering in a pandemic.
Now he has served schnitzel, French fries, and other German favorites – of course, delicious Aeppelwoi cider – to customers waiting in long lines of cars.
Late last year – long before most people had heard about the new coronavirus that is now sweeping the world – scientists in Germany acted to develop tests for viruses originating from China.
They had it in mid-January – and laboratories around the country were ready to start using it only a few weeks later, around the same time when the most populous country in Europe registered its first case.
“It’s clear that if the epidemic hits China from here, then we have to start testing,” said Hendrik Borucki, a spokeswoman for Bioscientia Healthcare, which has operated 19 laboratories in Germany.
This fast work contrasts sharply with delays and missteps in several other countries. “The reason we in Germany have so few deaths today compared to the number infected can be explained by the fact that we are carrying out a very large laboratory diagnosis,” said virus expert Dr. Christian Drosten, whose team developed the first test for a new virus at the Charite hospital in Berlin – was founded more than 300 years ago to treat plague victims.
Metzmacher Zum Lahmen Esel Restaurant, which has been operating since 1807, meanwhile, will usually accommodate 200 people inside and 200 others in the outdoor park.
Now, the car has driven to a small booth in front of the restaurant, where one of the 36 employees of Metzmacher receives each order before pushing a plastic tub into the emergency slide to the car window to pick up payment at a safe distance. Drive ahead, customers will get their orders in another tub pushed to their windows.
“This will be good,” Metzmacher said. “My regular customers support me, they are very happy I am open.”
Without people lingering for more than signature ciders, profit margins are low – but Metzmacher says it’s better than nothing.
“At least we continue and we continue to work,” he said.
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