Nevertheless, Kartenberg is already pursuing new activities under conditions that have changed yet again. ‘I’m assuming we will not be able to open again anytime soon, unfortunately,’ Kartenberg told MPULSE in November. He added, however, ‘We will be starting takeaway operations very soon and doing something for our guests.’ Popular classics like boeuf bourguignon, bouillabaisse or jus made by chef Schulz, the ‘sauce wizard’, are to be offered for takeaway or delivery. Kartenberg is also developing an online shop; his ‘virtual pantry’ now has ‘good taste in store’ and handles invoicing, shipping, labelling and marketing.
But even a superlative-quality, €10 jar of sauce or fish broth will not save a restaurant in the long run without government support, Kartenberg says. While he accepts the coronavirus-related restrictions ‘for the greater good’, he adds, ‘What’s happening now is not normal business
. We have no trade fairs or events, we’re in the midst of a pandemic and there are still 3 weak months ahead of us.’ The restaurateur feels that the situation as it was during the summer, when regular restaurant business was possible with a strict hygiene regimen, should be reinstated at the very least.
In any case, his team will remain on a short-time work schedule for the time being – also so they can recharge their batteries and be ready for the future. ‘My people want to work. I say: let’s take it easy. Because, starting in March or April at the latest, we want to pull out all the stops – there’s no other option. We will definitely offer the most amazing Irma menu ever, because put everything we’ve got into it.’ In addition to Irma la Douce, Kartenberg has been operating eins44, another casual restaurant, in Berlin’s Neukölln borough since 2014. He has no illusions about the effort required during the past and the coming months: ‘In spring, I’ll actually be opening my second restaurant for the third time.’