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Vacancy eliminated: Hof students bring life back to the “Hemingway” bar

Most recently, the well-known Café Hemingway in Hof’s Kreuzsteinstraße was a rather dreary sight. Since the last tenant threw in the towel in November 2019, the location was deserted. This has now changed thoroughly: Thanks to a group of students at Hof University of Applied Sciences, the café named after cult writer Ernest Hemingway has now blossomed and serves as a real meeting place in Hof’s old town – not least for other students, of course!

Have made the “Hemingway” their project (from left): Vincent Fleck, Amy Rehde, Florian Gießler and Jannis Gollwitzer (missing: Annika Steller, Saphira Thate and Smilla Richter); Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

“Campuls-digital” meets a visibly delighted Kai Gollwitzer, a lawyer in Hof in his main profession. But it was precisely the joy that was not always the case with regard to the café: the owner of the “Hemingway” suddenly found himself confronted with a permanent vacancy of his property in the midst of the pandemic: “There was naturally not the slightest chance of finding a new tenant for our bar during Corona lockdowns and curfews. Naturally, no one wanted to take such a risk – even though the bar always had a good reputation in Hof,” recounts Gollwitzer, who is also frequently confronted with the issue of vacancies as a city councilor in Hof.

Investing instead of resigning

Now Gollwitzer made a virtue out of necessity and tried to make the best possible use of the time of the pandemic:

We took a risk and simply invested without hesitation. The premises were completely gutted, renovated and redesigned.”

Kai Gollwitzer

Within two years of construction, the location was given a modern and stylish appearance, piece by piece. But the problem with the lack of a tenant was unfortunately still not solved. “We had naturally associated the renovation with the hope and perhaps also the expectation of a new tenant – in other words, of someone who would be confident in the business as a restaurateur and would approach the matter actively and with fresh motivation. But we were disappointed time and again.” And so, in the spring of 2022, everything was ready, the construction site was finished, and yet the “Closed” sign hung on the store door. “Fears arose that the cost of the renovation had been in vain,” Gollwitzer looks back.

Students help their lecturer

The situation only changed when Kai Gollwitzer – who has been a part-time lecturer at Hof University of Applied Sciences for almost 23 years in the subjects of private commercial law, labor law, systematics and application of law – also told his students at Hof University of Applied Sciences about the malaise of the empty bar. And with consequences:

It was May 2022, when Jorit Husen, a 5th-semester business psychology student, suggested I hire him and other fellow students on the way to the parking lot after my labor law lecture. He immediately talked about a bar by and with students at Hof University of Applied Sciences!”

Kai Gollwitzer
Owner Kai Gollwitzer; Image: private;

The owner was taken with the suggestion, whereupon five students, his own son Jannis, and his classmate Sarah met at the “Hemingway” as early as the following Sunday afternoon to make concrete plans for the premises and get down to business.

New opening in June

Only a few weeks later, the time had actually come: On June 18, 2022, Bar Hemingway reopened and has sincepresented itself as a stylish bar – complete with attractive student offers, of course(all students receive a 10% discount on everything upon presentation of their student ID). Since then, it has been run predominantly by enthusiastic students: “At the moment, a total of six students from Hof University of Applied Sciences are “running” the bar – Annika Steller, Vincent Fleck, Saphira Thate, Amy Rehde, Florian Gießler and Smilla Richter – that’s fantastic to see and it’s also great fun for me as the owner,” says a delighted Kai Gollwitzer.

View of the “Hemingway” bar; Image: Hof University;

Not least because of the rapid word-of-mouth advertising, more and more students are now regular customers of the bar and drink their latte macchiato, Hof beer or a delicious cocktail here.

For us, it’s a very practical experience – we’re not just employed here as a 0815 part-time job and just earn something on the side during our studies, but together we bear a great responsibility for the functioning of the entire bar and for its guests.”

Amy Rehde, student

Problems with staffing the bar naturally arise during semester breaks, exam periods and at Christmas. But solutions have now been found for that, too: With student teacher Lennart Hobelsberger, Jannis Gollwitzer and two classmates of Jannis, who are currently still active in the Q12 of the Jean-Paul-Gymnasium, the shortfalls can be compensated. Especially Kai Gollwitzer’s son Jannis is very happy about the contact to the university students – because he definitely wants to start studying computer science at Hof University of Applied Sciences himself in the fall.

To the Hemingway (with online reservation possibility)…

Rainer Krauß

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