Why Are Anglo Businesses Closing in Kreuzberg?
Hudson’s, the English cake shop we blogged soon after its opening, closed its doors on Sunday. It’s the third English-speaking hangout to go in a matter of months in Kreuzberg’s Graefekiez. Dialogue Books, also on Schoenleinstraße, closed its storefront in May and went online. The bistro run by Brooklynites, Little Otik, around the block on Graefestraße, closed the same month, its owners returning to the US to do business there.
None of these anglo-establishments seem to have closed for financial reasons. They were all popular. In fact, Hudson’s apparently enjoyed a record day the Saturday before it closed. So why are these anglos packing up and fleeing?
I talked to one of the owners of one of the above-mentioned establishments, and was told that ‘everyone got a little bored’.
Bored? But what about my bloody scones?
Now, seriously… I’m not sure if the following assessment goes for all of these businesses, but in general they were run by talented people who had come from busy lives elsewhere moving to Berlin to live differently. Certainly Hudson’s, for one, was almost too much of a success. From my observations, what started as a simple cake-baking operation morphed into a very demanding institution. It was adored by anglos from all over the city, aching for a little blood-clotting beans and bacon at breakfasttime, and we created a hell of a lot of work for an early Sunday morning. The operation wasn’t exactly what you can call ‘slowing down’. Those heroes at Hudson’s need a well-deserved holiday. I will suffer a painful withdrawal from lemon drizzle cake soothed only by the knowledge they are on some Aegean island somewhere downing ouzo. Really.
Dialogue Books went with the times: online, and to develop their literary agency. Their selection of books was impeccable––klein aber fein––but they too were not destined to remain long at street level. I think they also got a little tired of being the go-to point for lost/new anglo-artist arrivals to the city––’I just love that in Berlin you can do just nothing‘–– looking for used copies of Naked Lunch.
Little Otik vanished before my eyes. I passed by one day and it had simply dissapeared. I wish those cute guys well.
All of this cannot help you but wonder––allow me a little speculation––at how transient our Berlin life might be, and why we first came here to pursue working lives. Berlin for many working anglos––used to the pressure centres of London and New York––was a refuge, the ‘escape hatch’ from mass capitalism. It allowed for a greater work/life balance, which the Germans so prize (it still is better here, but where is it going?). Is it that Berlin is quickly catching up with London and New York that these anglo businesses have suddenly left? Why be working here, if there is here? Or were they influenced just by circumstance and private reasoning? Or an inevitable adjustment of dreams?