The catering operators are concerned. They have just survived the effects of the corona pandemic, war and inflation to some extent when a new sword of Damocles is already hanging over them: the impending increase in VAT to 19 percent.

The reduced rate is currently seven percent, but could increase at the end of the year. From January 2024 it would look bleak for the gastro scene. The Dehoga (German Hotel and Restaurant Association) fears that in the event of an increase in the coming year, 2000 to 5000 companies in NRW would have to close.

“Then we would unfortunately have to raise the prices”

Although Martin Schlueter from Reissdorf am Hahnentor in Cologne has no existential fears, he still sees the current development with concern. “Should that happen, we would unfortunately have to increase the prices for food accordingly,” he told Chris Epting, operator of Petersberger Hof and Berrenrather in Cologne-Sülz, would not be able to avoid a price increase either.

He explains: “Of course, an increase in VAT in the food sector would pose a new challenge. The purchase prices have recently risen considerably, not only for groceries, but also for ancillary costs in the catering trade (e.g. gas, electricity, carbon dioxide).”

“That would be a disaster for the companies”

Til Riekenbrauk from the Johann Schäfer Brauhaus in Südstadt makes it clear: “The restaurateur who can afford to offset twelve percent additional costs with his profits has yet to be invented.”

Then he reviews the past few months: “The problem is that we have had to raise prices far too often in the shortest possible time in recent years because inflation has hit the resources we need very hard.”

“If VAT were to be raised again and the VAT on drinks not reduced, it would be a disaster for the catering establishments,” says Mauren Wolf from Grandma Kleinmann on Zülpicher Strasse.

She goes on to say: “We would not be able to cushion this and would definitely have to raise our prices again, after we have already had several price increases in the recent past, we definitely do not want to expect our guests to do this, but it wouldn’t work any other way.”

“Gastronomy is ‘Lääve’ and a cultural asset”

Your statement is clear. “We want to continue to exist as a place that offers conviviality, community and enjoyment. Not just for wealthy people, but for anyone who is interested,” says Wolf.

Schlueter emphasizes the same thing: “We expressly do not want a visit to a brewery one day only being possible for top salaries. Regardless of our restaurant, people in Veedel also need their pub(s) with affordable prices, because gastronomy is ‘Lääve’ and a cultural asset.” And with that he probably speaks from the soul of all gastronomy operators.

Cologne catering establishments appeal to Chancellor Scholz

Almost unanimously, they demand that Chancellor Olaf Scholz keep his election promises. “During his election campaign, he made it clear that the seven percent will remain forever. If that is now reversed, he has fooled and lied to our beautiful industry,” says Riekenbrauk.

Schlueter also agrees: “We sincerely hope that the VAT on food will remain at seven percent and that the federal government will keep its election promise.”

By Antonia Raabe (ra)


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