The fine old Bötzow Brewery building in Berlin has had its fair share of ups and downs. Opened in 1885, it was soon a huge enterprise pumping out beer as fast as the Germans could drink it (which is pretty fast), and although it sustained damage in bombing raids during the Second World War, managed to limp on until 1949. The Bötzow family’s ties with the building ended in 1945 with the suicide of the founder’s son – fill in the blanks yourself on that one – and the buildings and grounds were sold and re-sold, going through various phases of re-invention including warehousing and use as a market site, as well as hosting the occasional arts and music event.
After several schemes for redevelopment came to nothing, Professor Hans Georg Näder got his hands on the place in 2010, which is cause for optimism; the owner of a giant medical tech firm, he recently built his own museum in the country to house his private art collection, and opened it up to the public. Now Bötzow Brewery is set for it’s next exciting phase as an arts and lifestyle centre under the watchful guidance of architects van Geisten Marfels, as well as becoming home to the Professor’s R&D department and a transparent wheelchair factory(?). Never a dull moment at this place…..
In the former Bötzow Brewery building, you won’t find many double Michelin-starred chefs cooking in a restaurant with cracked plaster work and rusty looking girders criss-crossing the ceiling, but here is Tim Raue, one of Germany’s very best, opening La Soupe Populaire.
Above: On-going contemporary art shows take place in the Studio Room at the lower level.
The space is windowless but warmly lit and furnished simply to “direct the focus to the exhibited artworks,” says Raue, “and, of course, to that which is being served.”
Above: A good idea are plates and glassware stacked in a vintage metal office rack.
Above: Tables and stools built out of salvaged wood.
Of course, it’s not in any way grotty, but there is an extremely industrial aesthetic here that’s 100% authentic thanks to the remnants of the building’s past. It’s vintage wherever possible, with simple table settings and the food dished up on plates featuring a 1930s design from the Royal Porcelain House. The pared down and affordable menu – just four mains courses are being offered along a “people’s kitchen” line – continues the theme of simplicity and give diners plenty of time to enjoy the interesting surroundings of salvaged plank tables and wicker chairs. There will also be a lot of more modern décor at La Soupe Populaire too, mainly in the changing exhibitions of contemporary art that are found in the aptly named Studio Room where the restaurant lives.