Dear Manfred, hardly anyone is particularly optimistic about the future at the moment and that is understandable. Corona, economic crisis, climate catastrophe – none of it sounds too great. How are you feeling about it?
I have to say, quite well actually. Of course, the situation right now is very stressful, tiring and frightening for many, but you have to think positively and get the best out of it. Difficult times also bring lots of new opportunities, you just need to have the courage to recognise them and make use of them.
Let’s start from the very beginning: One year ago, we had to shut down the whole country almost overnight. What did that mean in your case? And what did you use the lockdown for?
It was quite a shock for the whole team … we opened the KLYO in 2017 and had not closed for a single day since then. But it was clear to me that it would go on again at some point and hence I wanted to use the time for myself to come down and recharge my batteries. I have been intensively involved with the topic of veganism in the lockdown, as this has become an increasingly big topic at KLYO in recent months. I have cooked and tried out a lot … Some of it has been on our menu since we reopened last summer. J
What happened next? How was your summer from the business point of view?
We were all very excited before the reopening … After 2 months of silence, we didn’t know what to expect … whether people would even dare to come to a restaurant. But already in the second week, things really took off for us … we were completely booked out from 9 a.m. to midnight all summer long … we didn’t even know how to deal with the rush. It was so busy that we even had to extend our team in July … we hadn’t expected that. I am very grateful that things went so well for us after the first lockdown … especially because I know other companies where it was exactly the opposite.
Did you expect another lockdown in autumn? What have you done to continue to be present for your guests and your community?
I must confess that I was almost certain at the time that there would not be another lockdown of this kind. I would never have expected that the next one would even last over 5 months …
At the beginning we were completely closed and were only in contact with our guests on our social media platforms … But after the lockdown was constantly extended, we then decided in February to also deliver our breakfast and brunch dishes to our guests’ homes on Sundays … which has been well received so far.
Now you’re already working on your next big project. Perhaps you could present it briefly to us?
Yes. That is true. From the very beginning, my vision was to expand the KLYO brand … in addition to its own products, there should also be several locations in the future. I also used the 1st Lockdown intensively to work on the KLYO product world. Since last summer, for example, we have been roasting our own coffee, which we get directly from a small family farm in El Salvador and roast ourselves in Vienna. Furthermore, we have designed several liquors and our own range of ceramics, which have been available for purchase in our online shop since November last year.
… and since February we have been busy building our second KLYO location in the city centre of Graz, which we are really looking forward to.
What will be special about the KLYO in Graz? And what are the 3 most important success factors behind the KLYO concept?
Just like its sister in Vienna, the KLYO in Graz will be an open, friendly, multicultural place where people can feel at home. A large selection of breakfast and brunch dishes is served daily until 6 pm … In the evening, you can enjoy delicious drinks in our beautiful garden with a view of the clock tower. A special highlight in Graz will be our new vegan ice cream, which we will prepare on-site every day. J
… our 3 most important success factors … I think it’s a mixture of many factors … we have a common vision and enjoy what we do, and I think our guests can feel that. We take great care to ensure that all food is freshly prepared every day and that no artificial ingredients or flavour enhancers are used in the kitchen. We want to support local farmers and producers by sourcing goods directly from them … we want to produce as much as possible ourselves and be as independent as possible … we want to be as sustainable and environmentally conscious as possible … the list could go on forever.
Being resilient is said to be a great advantage in difficult times. Would you describe yourself as a resilient person, and does it have anything to do with courage in your eyes to implement a project like KYLO Graz right now? And if not with courage, what is it then?
Definitely … I have never let the current situation drag me down because I can’t change it anyway. I rather accept the situation and try to see the positive in it … I probably would never have had the time and muse to develop so many of my own products, not to mention setting up a 2nd location of this size and in such a short time. I think it’s up to everyone how they approach situations … but if I radiate positivity, positive things will also come back … even if sometimes it can be difficult.
KLYO is coming to Graz! Mid June 2021 the brandnew KLYO Graz will open its door with direct view on the Grazer Uhrturm.