Bonn, Germany – The word Bonn immediately connotes the capital of West Germany during the cold war years, prior to the fall of the Berlin wall, and the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven. Bonn, which was the capital of Germany from 1949-1999, is a charming city with a 2000-year long history and a population of 314,000, located 20 km south of Köln.
The Opera Restaurant, which was opened across from the Opera building during the time when Bonn was the capital city, was a popular meeting places for politicians, bureaucrats and party leaders. This year, the place which came to be known as the symbol of the city celebrates its 20th year. The Opera Restaurant, which was founded by Müslüm Balaban, a businessman, and has been managed by Filiz Tosun for nearly 14 years, is the only Turkish restaurant in Bonn in terms of concept and style.
The transfer of the capital from Bonn to Berlin took away with it some of the customers of the Opera Restaurant, but it has still maintained its status and priority in the culinary sector. The politicians who were regular customers of the restaurant have tried to carry their accustomed taste to Berlin; in fact, it seems they have even searched for an appropriate place for the Opera Restaurant to open another location. However, the remoteness of Berlin has made it impossible.
TOSUN’S 27-PERSON TEAM
Filiz Tosun, who came to Germany in 1969 to learn the language after completing her high school education in Istanbul, is a businesswoman who has been able to survive for a long time in that profession. She comments, “I never thought of gastronomy as a profession; I had no interest in it whatsoever. However, when I started to learn I loved it and it became a part of me.”
Needless to say, the Opera has become a part of the performances and activities of the Bonn Opera. The organizational arrangements for people who come to see the performances of the Opera are carried out by Filiz Tosun and her 27-person team. The Opera Restauran,t which can accommodate 550 people in open and closed spaces, also has a bar inside the Opera building.
The restaurant has gradually adopted, over two years, the non-smoking regulation in closed spaces which is enforced in Germany and now is in the process of annexing the space next door with 100-person capacity, which became available when the sauna which was there went out of business. Tosun tells us that they were the first to start the bar business inside the Opera building, but apparently now there are four others in the vicinity.
The restaurant, which especially attracts German customers, is famous for its cold appetizers. Filiz Tosun, who is the only female in the restaurant, says,”In a way I feel very much protected here. The staff never leaves me unattended. This is something which is very much appreciated by the customers as well.”
Tosun, who admits that her job is her hobby and she loves it, stresses the fact that they entertain close to 100 customers every day. In the restaurant a meal costs an average of 30 Euro per person. This covers the appetizers and the wine as well. Tosum notes that their prices are much lower than the prices in Italian restaurants downtown and adds, “When you consider the financial means of people in Germany you realize that it would not be possible to charge more for a meal.” The most expensive main course in the Opera is ‘tandır’, which costs 14 Euro.
“OPERA IS LIKE MY CHILD”
The people in Bonn eat out at least once a week. Germans, who at one time never went out after 6 p.m., have slowly outgrown this habit. The Opera is one place which has played a role in this process. The kitchen of the restaurant is open until 1 a.m..
Generally, restaurants frequently change hands or go out of business. The price politics of the Opera is most significant in its 20-year existence under the same management. Tosun points out that many businesses had to close when the capital was tranferred from Bonn to Berlin.
Tosun tells us that even though she is in restaurant business she does not particularly like to cook. She is more interested in the presentation of a meal. She prefers to go to the Italian Halbedel Restaurant whenever she goes out to eat in Bonn.
The Opera, surrounded by 12 palm trees, has inspired people with its demonstration that these kind of tress could be grown in Bonn. Tosun, who owns a house in Antalya, the vacation paradise of Turkey, goes there every chance she gets and says, “The Opera with its palm trees has been my little Antalya.”
Tosun says that even though she has been working as a manager for many years, she never thought of having her own place and notes: “The Opera is like my child, maybe that’s probably why it never occurred to me that I could start my own business.” Besides her child, the Opera, the successful manager also has a 34-year old son named Burak.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07