And, without the closure at the beginning of November, things could have continued that way. The location turned out to be a lucky coincidence: a small courtyard surrounded by outbuildings that calls forth a cosy corner of Italy rather than the busy street outside. Even in October, the guests insisted on being seated in ‘their’ courtyard. ‘One evening, we had 8 reservations from guests who wanted to sit outdoors when it was 10 degrees.’ Aktas granted their wish. He brought equipment in: 3 large, square umbrellas that attach together seamlessly and can even have walls added, plus infrared heaters. This arrangement is designed to keep every degree of warmth inside the courtyard for the guests. ‘Everything has multiple uses over the long term, not just during Covid-19.’
Simply selling bottles of wine not to be consumed on the premises, however, isn’t worth it for him. Aktas is confident that his guests will be back as soon as he can open his doors again. The wines, which are mostly German and often mature, will then again take centre stage. As accompaniments to hot soup or a tarte flambée in the well ventilated dining room or the courtyard, they get the guests’ circulation going and generate plenty of inner warmth and good cheer, at least for a while.