The restaurant The Newportis a true gem in Lübeck’s food scene. This is due to the incomparable location on the Trave river with a view of historic harbour sheds, the modern and stylish ambience, and the menu, which offers a selection of dishes inspired by Northern German cuisine but also featuring international influences. And it’s because of the kindness and attentiveness of the entire Newport team, who provide discreet service at all times. Behind The Newport stands its owner Ralf Schulte, who is a great host, loves to cook for friends himself, and for whom authenticity is important for both his business and his own life.
Love of water & Cosmopolitanism
I recently stopped by The Newport for ZWISCHENZEILEN to chat with Ralf Schulte about his dream come true. In Ralf Schulte I met a fascinating personality whose path across half the world almost inevitably had to lead to Lübeck.
Ralf originally comes from the Sauerland, but spent vacations with his family at the Baltic Sea in his childhood and youth. Here he fell in love with the sea and the lightheartedness of summer. Here, he learned to swim and marveled at the ferreis like the Gedser II and the Peter Pan that entered the harbour of Travemünde. A profession that would have taken him out to sea would therefore have been the obvious choice. Things turned out differently, however, as Ralf Schulte devoted himself to the world of fashion and completed a tailoring apprenticeship at Jil Sander. Please don’t say anything. It’s really pure coincidence that I’ve landed on this fashion topic again today, when this blog article is supposed to be about a restaurant. Things are about to get started, but you should know that Ralf Schulte’s decades of working on almost every continent have shaped the atmosphere at The Newport and the way he interacts with his team and his suppliers.
The path led Ralf to Singapore for a year directly after his training. He then completed a degree in business administration. He continued to work for his then-employer on weekends while studying and was responsible for large budgets early in his career. After completing his studies, he moved back to his old home region for just under a year before joining the OTTO Group, which was an exciting time for him as he developed new procurement markets. Turkey, India, Nepal, Romania, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka…. The countless impressions and experiences from these years have shaped Ralf Schulte and strengthened his ability to think in a solution-oriented manner. He is a man for whom the world was never black or white. In 2003, he set up his own business as a wholesaler and management consultant and moved into an office in the Media Docks in Lübeck.
From sailor to restaurant owner
Ralf learned to sail as part of the company sports programme at the OTTO Group. First sailing trips with chartered boats were made on the beloved Baltic Sea. His first own boat was a Folkeboat, with which the sailing area in southern Denmark was explored. Ralf tells me about the incomparable feeling of happiness to spend the day at sea, to enter a small harbour in the evening and to end the evening in a restaurant with fish and yummy regional seafood.
After one of these trips, he stood at the window of his office in the Media Docks with a pot of coffee in his hand and a view of the harbour sheds and the water of the Trave and asked himself why there was no marina in Lübeck like the ones he had seen in many places in Denmark. What began as an idea took shape in Ralf Schulte’s mind. He set about planning for a marina with an attached restaurant on the eastern shore of the Wallhalbinsel. Not realizing that it would take two and a half years to get the necessary permits. His patience and diplomatic skills from his time negotiating with people from a wide variety of cultures now came in handy.
As a networker, he always sought to talk to the decision-makers in order to dispel any concerns. He tells me that one of the biggest problems was the accommodation of the sanitary facilities for the guest sailors. The pontoon, which was finally built for this purpose, had caused immense costs, which had never been calculated in this amount. The pontoon is “the most expensive floating toilet in the entire Baltic Sea region.”
The restaurant, located on site in a former blacksmith shop, had undergone several changes of tenants. Ralf Schulte had it completely rebuilt and integrated historical details such as the steel girders of the ceiling construction and an old brick wall into the modern architecture. A light-flooded glass annex was newly built. In 2017, the opening could finally be celebrated.
The Newport Marina
The 50 berths at the chic marina are in high demand. Ships with a length of up to 30 metres find a temporary home here. As a graduate in business administration, Ralf Schulte simply enjoys optimizing processes. And he wants to make life as easy as possible for his guests. He invested in the digitalization of the marina. On the platform of the marina potential visitors can check in advance whether there’s a free space. Therefore, no one makes the long trip from the Baltic Sea across the Trave in vain. Berth reservation and payment of fees are handled online. Only The Newport Marina in Lübeck offers this exclusive service throughout Europe.
Currently, an expansion of the port by another 25 places is under consideration by the responsible municipal offices. This also takes a little longer than hoped. But we already know that Ralf Schulte is a man of perseverance.
Meanwhile, he offers his marina guests his“Schifflein deck dich” delivery service from the restaurant directly to the boat and is also delighted to have received a special award from the renowned YACHT magazine. The magazine recently included The Newport Marina in the series of the 10 most beautiful city harbours in the Baltic Sea. Here you can read why the experts are so enthusiastic.
The Newport Restaurant
The interior of the restaurant reflects taste and an eye for sustainable and valuable materials. Ralf Schulte’s love for the sea can be felt everywhere. Carefully selected details decorate the rooms, but do not distract from the essentials: the view of the water, the sailing boats, the tower of St. Jakob’s and the historic harbour sheds. Restaurant guests sit on high-quality German-made seating at tables made of linoleum, a renewable resource. All light fixtures were custom made specifically for The Newport, and curtains and pillows are faux ray skin. A coherent overall concept that is inviting without being aloof or artificial. Everyone can and should feel comfortable, whether wind-blown directly from the boat, directly after office hours or elegantly dressed for a special occasion.
The dishes are simply all unbelievably delicious. Whatever you order: you will be thrilled. The chef and his team are constantly creating new favourites. It is nothing new that good cuisine requires good raw materials. At The Newport you can taste the freshness and quality of the products used. I really like the fact that I can drop by here quickly for a currywurst. But likewise for a multi-course menu. It also fits in with the sustainable orientation of the house that no overseas wines are served. The Newport obtains its wines from the Lübeckwine house Von Melle.
The restaurant is open Mondays to Saturdays from 5 p.m. It’s incredibly popular, which is why I recommend you make a reservation early. Incidentally, this works by telephone, but of course also online. Digital solutions are Ralf Schulte’s thing. And absolutely contemporary!
The best way to stay up to date is to follow The Newport onInstagram. So you’ll find out early on what’s fresh on the menu and what else is going on at The Newport: sometimes it’s filming for a thriller and sometimes it’s a kitchen party with live cooking, various food stations and a DJ. Ralf Schulte will certainly be on site. It feels like it’s always there. Not surprisingly, this place on the Trave is his dream come true, which actually began during his childhood vacations.