Enjoy Your Meal
Mr. Müller, why would someone go and close a successful, award-winning restaurant?
We realized that what we were doing was no longer cutting edge. To be honest, we caught ourselves spending a minute and a half explaining the dishes to our guests. At some point, that seemed completely absurd.
And how would you explain the new concept at [maki:'dan]?
The idea was that people want to have a nice evening after having had enough restrictions during their day and that they don’t really need those in the restaurant as well. So we moved away from set menus and are now offering entrées. In other words, an à la carte offer from which you can choose freely. We also did away with the fixed order of dishes. In addition, we bring a display tray to the table presenting a new dish that is not on the menu. Because the chef had a good idea or we got a really fantastic fish that day. And we blend the wine at the table.
You make cuvées right then and there?
Yes, the guests can use test tubes to mix their own wine at the table. I should note that, strictly speaking, that’s just what a vintner does.
And the concept works?
Yes, it’s incredibly popular, and it changes the whole vibe. It’s loud and lively. And that’s exactly how I want it, that really brings out the Düsseldorfer in me. We’re a friendly, gregarious lot.
"It’s loud and lively. And that’s exactly how I want it, that really brings out the Düsseldorfer in me. We’re a friendly, gregarious lot."
Would you say that the pandemic has changed the importance of the hospitality industry in general?
I definitely do believe that is the case. People have a new appreciation for socializing and hospitality, things that we had previously taken for granted.
And what is most important for you about the future of your hotel and the restaurant?
Getting away from our own vanities. We just want to satisfy the needs of our guests. The individual experience is important here, of course, and we have to make sure to speak to all the senses.
Dominic Müller would probably have made a good race car driver – because he’s always got his foot on the gas. At eighteen, the native of Düsseldorf was assistant manager at a cocktail bar near the upscale Königsallee boulevard, he studied at the International College of Hospitality Management in Switzerland and later opened hotels in Hamburg and Yangon. Together with his wife, he set out to find his own property – and found it in the Hotel Ritter in Durbach, a 4-star superior hotel in the Black Forest, which he has managed for the past twelve years. Most recently, he closed the hotel’s award-winning restaurant and opened the [maki:'dan]. He is also planning to give the hotel a new direction and has already registered a brand name for this purpose: The Meaning Hotel. The focus will be on meaningfulness and sustainability and no longer just consumption.