24th October 2023

Never give up on your dreams

Three friends who shared a common dream: a trendy meeting place in eastern Luxembourg selling local wines and promoting Luxembourg's beautiful Moselle region. Charel Vandivinit, one of the initiators, tells us about their entrepreneurial journey, which was not without obstacles. Happy reading!

Meet Charel

My name’s Charel Vandivinit and I’m 32. In 2022 ,  I opened, together with a friend, a bar in Remich along the Moselle.

I’ve also been running the family business Voyages Vandivinit full-time with my cousin for a few years now.

The idea of creating a business

2018: we were a group of friends from the east of Luxembourg and we could hardly ever agree on where we should meet up at night to do hang out. There wasn’t much choice around. Some wanted to go to Luxembourg City, which other friends found too inconvenient and preferred to stay in the region, but unfortunately there was nothing going on there. That’s how we came up with the idea of just opening a cafe/bar with regional products and good vibes the way we imagined it and where we could have some good time.

The stages of business creation

The long road to victory

Three people with different experiences under their belts that were important for success! One of us grew up in the catering trade, their parents ran a cafe for years, another one of us already had a lot of experience from working in a hotel and another took a training course that provided access to the HoReCa industry. 

The “Accès réglementé aux professions de l'HoReCa” training course run by House of Training is the opening door that gets you into the catering trade as an independent.  It gives you a crash course in everything you will need:  health, safety, labour laws, accounting and more.

The challenging search for a suitable venue!

We looked at various locations in Remich and as euphoric as we were about our decision to set up our own business, our joy was quickly shattered when we realised how high the rental costs were, even in a small town like Remich. In addition, almost all the premises were in a bad condition, and nothing had been renovated or invested for years.

We soon figured out that we’d have to sell a lot of wine and other drinks to pay a rent like that and that wasn’t an option for us.

The sparking idea

Then came the idea of setting something up along the water, like we’d seen before when we’d been on holiday together along the Rhine in Düsseldorf or on the Belgian coast. We knew from the start how hard it would be to get a permit, but we pushed on, with the motto “dat onméiglech, méiglech maachen” (make the impossible possible).

In the end, it took from 2019 to May 2022 before we had all the permits together.

Throughout that long period, we met with Schengen Municipality because we’d found a lovely meadow along the Moselle that was owned by the Municipality. At first, we were welcomed with open arms, and we were able to lay out our concept. The local politicians were really enthusiastic.  Over the weeks and months that followed, we negotiated with the local council only to find out in the end that they weren’t that interested anymore... That was obviously a setback!

Dat onméiglech, méiglech maachen - make the impossible possible

A mobile solution in the form of a Tiny House

Our concept is simple: we bought a Tiny House and converted it into a bar. That means that if there’s ever a natural disaster like the Moselle bursting its banks, we’ve got the option of quickly getting the bar out of the danger zone. It’s all mobile and you can take it down whenever you need to. We envisionned our customers enjoying Luxembourg wines and other products while looking out over the water and the vineyards.

The Moselle and vineyards in the background

We finally found a lovely spot in Remich. This one was owned by a Ministry, not the Municipality.

We enquired at the different departments as well as met with the officers for months on end to find out whether we could make our dream of a bar along the Moselle a reality. Everyone individually was really enthusiastic, but it got to be more and more impossible given the sheer number of administrative hurdles and laws.

Then the Covid-19 crisis came around and it really wasn’t the right time to start a new business, but we took the risk anyway.

Impuls training course: waiting time well spent

On the advice of House of Entrepreneurship, we took the 3-month IMPULS programme offered to us by Nyuko. We learned a lot in that course (how to set up your own company, putting together a business plan, sustainability etc...) and we found ourselves being motivated to believe in our project again and get to the implementation phase.  

Green light for the Tiny Bar

In the end, we won our bid for a site along the Moselle.  After we got 7 permits from 7 different departments, we were finally able to launch in June 2022. We’re really grateful to the Town of Remich for all their support.

In the space of 20 days, we installed the Tiny Bar and the terrace, bought all the furniture and decorated everything. We put out adverts for student jobs and conducted job interviews.

Everything happened so fast and then, on 15 July 2022, we opened and were able to welcome the first guests. It was a roaring success throughout the whole summer of 2022. Our dream had come true at last!

Taking social responsibility as an employer

Tiny Bar is a place for tourists from Luxembourg and abroad who want to find out about our Moselle region and our products. We also see it as our duty to help younger people get a start in the world of work and that’s why we work a lot with students and why we also have no problem employing people who haven’t had an easy life and now want to get fully stuck into life.

Every Thursday we put on live concerts and starting this winter we’ll be having a winter theme as well.

Charel’s advices for future entrepreneurs

  • I can only advise that you should dare to start your own business and never give up on your goals.
  • Nobody can know everything in life, so nobody should be too proud to ask other people questions and ask for help and never stop learning.
  •  You don’t get as far on your own. A team always makes you stronger.
  •  And, finally, treat everyone with respect and listen.

Nyuko has signed a partnership with Spuerkeess, in order to foster entrepreneurial spirit and strengthening the bank's position with company founders from the start of their businesses. More info in our article: https://www.spuerkeess.lu/en/blog/experts-corner/nyuko-fostering-entrepreneurial-spirit/.