Georg Voss has been with Maredo for a long time. As a guest, he always liked to eat sirloin steak with Argentinian pesto Chimichurri, he says. Professionally, as the manager of a Lufthansa catering company, he cooperated with the steak house chain and then ran a Maredo joint venture for three years. “I’ve always liked Maredo, but sometimes I’ve said to myself: a little more fashionable would be good for the brand,” says Voss. Now he wants to take care of it himself: with co-sponsors he secured the trademark rights to Maredo and initially reopened three branches of the recently insolvent company. Others will follow.
Since the beginning of July, the restaurants of the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, Dortmund and Mülheim an der Ruhr have once again been serving steaks from Uruguay and Argentina. While it was the Corona crisis that caused Maredo to go bankrupt in the first lockdown and the fatal blow in the second, the problems had already started earlier. After the sale of the company by the three founders in the 2000s, it passed into the hands of several investors. “They reinvested relatively little, so the design of many restaurants was out of date,” says Voss. Old school cowboy look, unprofitable branches – and then Corona.
Georg Voss wants to bring back the brand with the horn M in the logo on the German promenade. But it is not that easy, as the branches were all closed at the start of the year and the employees were laid off. Some of the new employees, Voss says, are former employees. “We first had to convince the previous owners that our concept could work. This has apparently been a success at ten to twelve locations, including Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Münster and Leipzig: Voss plans to reopen there in the next six months and to give a new design to branches not yet renovated within two years. In other cities, he says, competitors have taken over the premises.
Avoid big surprises
Maredo is not the only restaurant chain to have gone bankrupt during the pandemic and is now daring to restart. Vapiano, known for its Italian dishes and known for queuing at the pasta counter and not always hygienic food, filed for bankruptcy in March 2020. Now Vapiano is also trying a rebirth with new investors – so radical, as it was called in June. The chain is banning pizza from its menu in the coming months and replacing it with pinsa. It is also a filled dough cake that is establishing itself as an oval and trendy alternative to pizza, especially in large cities.
At Maredo, on the other hand, investor Georg Voss initially wants to avoid very big surprises. A glance at the menu of reopened branches reveals everything from corn on the cob and rib eye to the salad bar the chain was already defending before the bankruptcy. “Maredo was and will be a steak house,” says Voss. New items on the menu are additional burgers, with which he mainly wants to appeal to the youngest, and so-called bocadillos – toast with a filling that does not necessarily contain meat. In 2021, a steak house will also offer grilled vegetables, goat thalers and mushroom patties. “If ten friends want to go out for dinner today, two vegetarians are quickly involved and they should also feel at home with us,” says Voss.
In addition, customers will now be able to sear their meat directly at the table and attend barbecue seminars in branches. Moritz Dietl believes it is a good idea to offer customers an experience “that goes beyond a plate of meat with a side”. He is the managing partner of the Treugast Solutions Group, specializing in advice to hotels and restaurants. “Today, a visit to a restaurant should no longer only serve food, but should also be suitable for use in infrastructure”, explains Dietl. If the guest advertises his meal – like Franck Ribery did his Golden Dubai Steak – at best, he is advertising the restaurant free of charge.
Will the idea work? The investor himself qualifies his project as “courageous”, the consultant Dietl himself as “risky”. But if you secure attractive locations as a restaurateur, deliver contemporary concept, and deliver quality, you can be successful even in a crisis. Possibly with a mixture of sirloin and goat cheese.