Sustainability, jumping fun & schnitzel

Kolarik's leisure facilities have returned to full operation with the opening of the Prater on May 29th - and thus once again guarantee enjoyment, jumping fun and sufficient safety distance for air and pleasure seekers. We were also in the Prater for a jump and talked to Paul Kolarik, the new managing director of Kolariks Freizeitbetriebe, about the first time after the shut-down, safety distances and schnitzels ...

It was not so long ago: How did the crisis feel for you?
The days were initially marked by the basics of commercial life - lists of account balances, discussions with suppliers and banks, drawing up liquidity plans. But we also got creative: after a week, my mother had the idea to have stilts delivered. See there: This was well received, my two younger sisters were able to bring joy to many people on weekends and holidays. It helped us to bridge the time.

How was your start into the summer season?
It was fine. Seats have been reduced by 50%, to 700. The team is a little smaller. On May 29th we were also able to go back into full operation and make the air castle slides and trampolines in the Praterfee accessible. The guests are happy, one notices that for many, the Prater means a short vacation, a pleasurable time out. Also for me it is nice to be again a host, to be able to work into the future.

And we fundamentally notice: there is more appreciation and respect for gastronomy. We enjoy that there is now more air and space here. And we are aware that at the moment you have to reserve in advance or wait a little for a seat.

Has the quality of the service changed?
In any case: It is our task to create a good feeling for the guests in uncertain times. For example, by observing the rules of hygiene, by being friendly and staying positive. In the kitchen, we can devote more attention to detail and preparation to the individual products. We also finally have the time to test complex but useful automatisms of our appliances (laughs).

In fact, when it comes to quality, the responsibility must be borne by the whole team. We are all in the same boat - with enough distance, of course. Even before the crisis, we had a tight organizational and operational structure and people in the team who live responsibility and love what they do. The nice thing about it is that nothing has changed, quite the contrary.

We are all in the same boat - with enough distance, of course.

Keyword quality ...
This is nothing new for us: We already knew before that the focus of the gastronomy in the future will clearly be on quality. Three years ago, we deliberately took the path to becoming an organic farm, since 2019 we have been cooking 100% organic - and my big goal is to be able to offer 100% organic beverages in two years' time for the 30th anniversary of the Luftburg.

The crisis had a far-reaching impact - but: it has also once again absolutely strengthened us in our striving for regionality, seasonal and organic quality.

Will the pressure to increase the number of guests increase again over time?
The question is whether this is a pressure to accept - in the end, quality must be the main focus. I think it's about the overall experience, about feeling good, about the quality that ultimately reaches the guest. I can't imagine that the right way is to define oneself only by quantity. But it is better to rely on a successful, holistic concept that convinces.

So not "If the guest doesn't come to me, he goes somewhere else"?
It's a matter of attitude, of appreciation. In the Luftburg you get organic quality, where it is worth waiting. We know this from our holidays: We like to wait an hour for the table in the recommended restaurant. The Wiener Prater is like a short holiday. And a great all-day experience also includes food that stays in your memory. On the one hand, we are a meeting place for families with children who enjoy the light-heartedness. On the other hand we offer coffee atmosphere, holiday beer feeling and are a popular location for celebrations.

One should therefore be able to offer the guests something special. We are working on a comprehensive concept in order to be able to offer them an even more comprehensive leisure time offer in the future - ideally even with a very special overnight stay possibility in the Prater. Because: Those who make leisure time a pleasure again will always remain popular with guests.

Those who make leisure time a pleasure again will always remain popular with guests.

There is now also a smaller map - why?
We were interested in sustainability, in making sure that nothing spoils. With the reduction, we guarantee the widest possible use of the individual products. The most popular dishes are still on the menu, of course!

What will we take away from this crisis?
I think that keeping our distance will become socially accepted and remain anchored in people's minds. And could be useful in the long run to counteract a second wave.

What is your vision for the future of Kolarik's recreational businesses?
In short: Back to the roots, to quality and uniqueness. Keyword: "Granny's home cooking", which brings back childhood memories. The crisis shows: It is becoming regional again. On the one hand this is zeitgeisty, on the other hand I think it is a long-lasting trend.

In addition, as an entrepreneur you have the responsibility to deal with the planet in a sustainable manner. We use solar energy, pay attention to waste separation, work with an intelligent energy management system or use biodegradable cleaning agents - and thus invest in the future.

In terms of taste, we are becoming even more natural and biological again, awakening memories. When it comes to sustainability and economic action, we act with an eye to the future.

Finally: What is your favourite dish at the Luftburg?
The classic: Schnitzel with potato salad. Not too thin, not too thick. That always works!

Grandma's home cooking', which brings back childhood memories.

Paul Kolarik's bouncy castle tip:
Families always feel comfortable in the front row with a direct view of the bouncy castles in the children's world. If you meet your best friends for dinner, reserve one of the self-dispensing tables in the guest garden - they ensure an exuberant atmosphere!

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