Ueli Prager, the founder of the Swiss hotel and restaurant group Mövenpick, died on Saturday at the age of 95, according to his family.

"/> Ueli Prager, the founder of the Swiss hotel and restaurant group Mövenpick, died on Saturday at the age of 95, according to his family.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

BUSINESS

Swiss food pioneer dies at 95

Ueli Prager, the founder of the Swiss hotel and restaurant group Mövenpick, died on Saturday at the age of 95, according to his family.

Prager was one of Switzerland’s most renowned businessman and, like most pioneers, he was “open to everything,” the family said.

Born in Wiesbaden (Germany) to a Swiss family, he opened his first restaurant in Zurich in 1948, The Mövenpick.

The Mövenpick kicked off what would become one of his biggest revolutions in Switzerland: offering healthy food at relatively low prices and with fast service. He used to explain that he got the idea when he saw a man quickly feeding the seagulls in the Lake of Zurich with pieces of bread.

Business success came rapidly, and new eateries were opened in Lucerne, Geneva and Lugano.

By 1965, Prager had opened his first restaurant abroad, in Germany.

Soon after, the doors of the first hotel of the group opened: the Jolie Ville Motor Inn in Zurich. The first international hotel venture was launched in 1975 with an opening in Egypt, near the Giza pyramids. It was the first of many hotels to be located outside the Swiss borders.

But for the Swiss fast food pioneer that was not enough.

The first Mövenpick brand was for coffee, and was launched onto the market in 1963. Six years later it was the turn of his world-famous ice-cream brand.

Three decades after the company’s birth, Mövenpick was trading in the Swiss stock market as a hotel, restaurant, food and wine company.

But as Prager aged, the company began to disintegrate.

In 1988, 40 years after the first opening, Prager stepped down as managing director and his wife Jutta took over.

In 1992, the company was sold to Augst von Finck, a German businessman, who sold the ice-cream brand to Nestlé and removed Mövenpick from the stock market in 2007 to turn it, once again into a family-run business.

The news broke Prager’s heart and he said at the time: “Mövenpick of today is no longer my Mövenpick”.

In the 1990s, Prager and his wife moved near London, even though they kept a castle in Silvaplana, a small village in Graubünden, where they used to spend extended periods of time.

What started as a one-man business had, at the time of the Swiss food icon’s death, more than 18,000 employees around the world, 68 restaurants, 38 hotels and a dozen motorway restaurants.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CULTURE

IN PICTURES: Swiss techno Street Parade returns after two-year absence

Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of a sun-baked Zurich on Saturday for the Swiss city's annual techno Street Parade, following a two-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

IN PICTURES: Swiss techno Street Parade returns after two-year absence

But celebrations were marred by the death of a young man who drowned after jumping into the city’s river near the parade. Zurich police said rescuers tried to save the man but it was too late.

Around 850,000 people attended the last event in 2019, and this year, organisers expected between 750,000 and one million.

street parade zurich

Participants celebrate the 29th edition of Street Parade with one reveller holding a sign reading ‘finally, normal people’. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Under a clear blue sky, fans gathered for the start of the free parade for around two kilometres (1.4 miles) along the river in the heart of Switzerland’s financial capital.

revellers at street parade in zurich

This year’s Street Parade gathered several hundred thousands of ravers and electronic music fans. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

As the temperature reached 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit), the river’s banks were full of revellers, many taking the plunge into the water to keep cool.

“I don’t have the right words to describe the atmosphere here, it is fantastic, all the people you know they are so eager to party,” said Patrick, a 26-year-old Master’s student in Zurich, with multi-coloured flowers and glasses on his head.

“You can feel that, you can feel the vibration in the air,” he added.

The highlight of the event is 30 floats known as “lovemobiles”, which are usually brightly decorated trucks with music, DJs and party-goers.

street parade zurich

Revellers jump into Lake Zurich to cool off during the 29th edition of the Street Parade in Zurich. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

More than 200 DJs will play at this year’s event, including international stars Adriatique, Anna Tur, Ida Engberg, Reinier Zonneveld and Syreeta.

After two years marked by the pandemic, the organisers said the parade’s motto was “THINK”.

street parade zurich

Revellers surround one of the 30 ‘lovemobile’ floats at the event. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

“Thoughts are the key to a peaceful coexistence of our cultures, no matter what religion, skin colour, origin or sexual orientation people belong to,” organisers said.

The first edition of Street Parade took place in 1992, drawing a mere 1,000 revellers and only two lovemobiles.

It is now the biggest techno party in Europe.

SHOW COMMENTS