• Germany's news in English

'First and foremost, read the regulations!'

The Local · 15 Apr 2013, 08:24

Published: 15 Apr 2013 08:24 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

After landing a job as a chef in Essen over 15 years ago, 63-year-old Irishman

Ray decided to establish his own little piece of home in Bonn and has been running the city's first Irish pub ever since. Despite a constantly changing local demographic which has brought an influx of international business, he says 85 percent of his regular visitors are still German. What attracts them to the Fiddlers in such large numbers? In a word, the "authenticity" of the place.

Where are you located and what do you do?

I am Bonn's original Irish publican and have been running Fiddlers Irish Pub in the beautiful neighbourhood of Endenich, in the heart of the city's Kulturmeile, for 15 years. I rent the premises and have lived there for the past 13 years with my German partner Marianne Michels, who has taught me German and helps me understand German laws and regulations.

What brought you to Germany and how did you land your job?

I started off working as a chef in Essen, in an Irish pub called the Fritzpatricks.

After six months the owner and I decided to set up our own pub in Bonn. He later left and opened another pub, and we went our separate ways. I ended up the sole landlord of this place.

What are the key differences in being a pub owner here and in Ireland?

I see my pub as a little piece of Ireland in Bonn. It is a place for conversation and a place to relax. Although I've had to adapt to my surroundings at various times, I've always retained an authentic Irish feel. Our kitchen always uses Irish products - if we can't import them, we make them ourselves. We even make our own ketchup! We host an extremely popular pub quiz on Monday, have a Celtic music session every Wednesday and karaoke on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday we cook up a roast to feed the growing local community of students, whose mensas or canteens are closed on Sundays.

What attracts Germans to Irish culture?

The element of Irish culture most popular with the Germans is the "authenticity". We have our own resident butcher who can be seen in action while he works in the kitchen, and our German customers love the authenticity of the spectacle. The rawness of the music and the taste of the beer, all these things make for a great atmosphere that gives them a unique experience.

How international is your clientele?

In recent times it has become very international. I would say Germans still make up around 85 percent, but the recent influx of Erasmus students and international business has had an effect. In the past few years, 300 new student apartments have been constructed within 100 metres of the pub, and we've recognised the need to readjust our prices for the new demographic. Bonn's United Nations connections are also growing with new conference centres springing up, and that brings a lot of international business. The city is changing all the time.

How important is it for you to be able to speak German at work?

I can speak to the bank manager or the corner shop owner in German, but in the pub I speak English with my customers. I have to maintain that air of authenticity - when people come to an Irish pub, they want to hear that immediately recognisable accent.

What advice would you give to foreigner considering setting up a bar or restaurant in Germany?

First and foremost, read the regulations! There are so many rules and regulations in this country that it's good to be prepared. I've been running the Fiddlers for 15 years, so that's 15 years of mistakes!

What do you like most about working in Germany?

What's impressed me most is how high standards are, and that applies to everything. The transport system is also incredibly efficient - I have a choice of four different routes just to get to Cologne, and the journey only takes half an hour! As a city, Bonn is quiet and peaceful, and I feel safe wherever I go. That's also important.

Story continues below…

Have your views on Germany changed since your arrival?

I thought initially that it would be completely organised and everything would run smoothly with military precision. I've realised since that although the system is impressive, not everything functions perfectly in Germany. Instead, there is a vast array of laws to keep things running as efficiently as possible. When something goes wrong, the Germans simply create a new law. One new law to fix each fault that arises.

Do you see your future in Germany? Do you plan on staying?

Yes, I plan on staying indefinitely, but I have children in Ireland so I go back regularly. I also read the Irish papers every day, so I keep up to date with events back home.

Want your German career featured on The Local? Contact us at: news@thelocal.de

Interview conducted by Matthew Luxmoore.

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd