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.

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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.

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ZURICH

‘3,000 francs a month?’: Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

On Sunday September 25th, while the Swiss will decide on three national issues in a national referendum, Zurich voters will weigh in on a pilot project involving the recurring issue of universal basic income.

'3,000 francs a month?': Zurich to vote on trying universal basic income

The idea of the government handing out a set amount of money to its citizens is not a novel concept in Switzerland: in 2016, a referendum made Switzerland the first country in the world to vote at national level on this issue.

But 76.9 percent of voters rejected this initiative because they could not see how it could be funded without increasing taxes.

Some left-leaning districts in Zurich, however, voted in favour of the universal basic income (UBI), and while nothing came of it on the national level at the time, the city will re-vote on this issue on Sunday.

READ MORE: Zurich to roll out universal basic income pilot project

While the exact details are still muddy, voters will decide whether to offer “free” money on monthly basis to 500 residents chosen for the pilot project.

Though the amount is not yet determined, it could likely be between 2,500 and 3,000 francs a month.

Contrary to what had been proposed at the federal level in 2016, the part paid by the city government will vary according to income from work.

For the political left, which launched the proposal, UBI “represents a possible answer to current challenges such as automation, poverty and the climate crisis”, the group says on its website.

Among the opponents, the municipal council “believes that paid work is the most important element to ensure the livelihood of individuals and at the same time create social prosperity”.

Does this proposal have a chance of success?

Based on the outcome of the national vote, probably not.

On a municipal level too, such initiatives have already failed in Bern and Lucerne.

However, as Swiss media points out, “Zurich is very left”, so perhaps UBI can get more of a boost there.

As far as the national referendum on September 25th is concerned, this article explains what issues will be voted on:

Pensions, farming and tax: What issues will the Swiss vote on this month?
 

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