Two brands well-known by Beijing’s veteran eat, drink and be merry crowd are teaming up. German comfort food haven Schindler’s is moving its Ritan Park branch 50 meters down the street to the former Maggie’s nightclub complex — it will take over the west side that housed UMU restaurant until April.
I first heard the news in late April and was told Schindler’s would open in that UMU space in June. But COVID restrictions delayed renovations and thus staff were hauling fridges, furniture and décor up the street to Maggie’s today under a hot June sun. I was told the plan is to open this new Schindler’s – the brand’s presence also includes venues such as a restaurant north of the German Embassy and a meat shop on Maizidian – in two weeks.
Schindler’s, which has long served as a place to indulge in quality comfort food and hoist pints, has an intriguing past, as covered by The Irish Times.
“What do spies do when there’s no war left to fight?” askes reporter Clifford Coonan. “The end of the Cold War left Col Steffen Schindler, head of military intelligence at the East German embassy in Beijing, jobless.”
Coonan explains how Schindler returned home, trained as a butcher and returned to China in 1991 to manage a slaughterhouse
“In 1999 he set up a company providing German food and in 2002 he opened Schindler’s Filling Station.”
The rest is history, or rather still history in the making, with the newest chapter set to start in mid-July.
The Maggie’s brand dates back to 1990. It had relocated to the east gate of Workers Stadium by the time I moved to Beijing, then moved again, this time to Ritan Park, ahead of the 2008 Olympics, with its former size razed and replaced with a high-end restaurant complex that served as a base for the US team during the Games.
The Ritan Maggie’s came with a smart layout and design, including lofty roof beams painted with Qing Dynasty themes, and also featured lived bands. Tough times, exacerbated by COVID, made the business model untenable and the focus shifted to opening UMU, with a restaurant on one side and music events on the other.
Schindler’s represents a new attempt to bring back the crowds to the east gate of Ritan Park. Perhaps it will also include a nod to history and feature hot dogs on the menu alongside the sausages.
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