By Joel Dullroy, Radio Spaetkauf
Kreuzberg bakery Cafe Filou has been spared from eviction after the property’s owner agreed to renew the contract. British investor Charles Skinner told Radio Spaetkauf he had experienced a change of heart following talks with retiring Green party politician Hans-Christian Ströbele.
“In the end we saw reason, Mr. Skinner said. “A lot of mistakes have been made along the way, not just by us but from them, from everybody. I think there’s going to be a good coming together.”
Mr. Skinner said he would now work with Mr. Ströbele to create a fair commercial property contract to give business tenants an automatic renewal. While residential property leases in Berlin are well protected by law, commercial leases remain vulnerable.
“It’s not a financial thing, it’s a moral thing… I would like to design a different kind of contract for commercial properties whereby they get an automatic renewal rather than something that just goes down to zero, and people like me can just say ‘no’,” Mr. Skinner said.
Cafe Filou co-owner Nadja Wagner confirmed that they had received a verbal agreement from Mr. Skinner that the contract would be renewed. While the details are yet to be finalized, Ms. Wagner said she expected the rent to remain unchanged, and the contract to be valid for several years with extension options.
“We’re pleased with the outcome,” Ms. Wanger said. “It is only because of the support of the neighbourhood that we have been able to come so far.”
Mr. Skinner praised the role played by Clare D’Orsay, the operator of Vertikal restaurant, which sits next door to Cafe Filou on Reichenberger Straße, and is also Mr. Skinner’s tenant.
“She was relentless in getting us to keep the Cafe Filou operators,” Mr Skinner said.
Clare D’Orsay spoke on the latest Radio Spaetkauf podcast about the violence and vandalism she had experienced from misguided protesters who had targeted her business due to its proximity to Cafe Filou.
Ms. D’Orsay said she had been spat at, pushed to the ground and had her windows smashed by an organized group for being a foreigner opening a nice looking restaurant in Kreuzberg.
The 32-year old New Yorker moved to Berlin seven years ago and has run other businesses in the neighbourhood. She pointed out that Restaurant Vertikal did not displace any existing business, as the building was recently constructed on an empty corner lot.
Ms. Wagner from Cafe Filou said she hoped the attacks against Vertikal would cease, and that the restaurant would be integrated into the community.
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