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Schnitzel, Schowarma and Spaghetti – How Immigrants Are Globalizing Berlin’s Culinary Scene Wollankstraße - A Street in Berlin



There is an old saying, “you are what you eat”. It is true that you can tell a lot about a person just by observing what and how he or she eats. Since most of us eat at least three times a day, food plays a significant role in our lives. Yet eating habits represent more than an individual. They also tell us a lot about ethnic and other kinds of identity. That is specifically true in today’s context of globalization, when preserving one’s identity can become a lifestyle, especially for minorities living in an environment surrounded by the majority. 

It is interesting to observe the food we eat in a cosmopolitan city like Berlin because it tells us a lot about the people who call Berlin their home. Here, the lifestyles of people from all over the world intersect daily. In the noisy hustle and bustle of everyday living, some people consume fast food, some go for slow food, and some people do not have a choice. The question remains, what do we learn about each other while eating, if anything? When you have a döner kebap for lunch, do you become more sensitive and tolerant towards Turkish culture? And at dinner, when you dine out in a fancy Indian restaurant, do you sense that you have moved further East on the global map? 

Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, there are two different trends concerning awareness about the role of food. Some people do not have the time or money to make conscious choices about their meals. Others, on the contrary, make their choices according to origin, quality and taste of products. Yet, food plays a vital role in everyone’s daily life, whether or not we think about it. So it can be an accessible key to open doors to a better understanding of how minorities interact with each other, and how they communicate with the majority. Moreover, food and eating habits give hints about issues of identity and globalization and their interaction. 

We would like to introduce the reader to two Berlin neighborhoods with their own character and history – Pankow and Wedding – that were separated by the Berlin Wall from 1961 until 1989. Before taking you on a walk through Wollankstraße that runs from Wedding to Pankow, we will tell the story of that fragment of the wall and the S-Bahn station above it.  Along Wollankstraße, a unique Berlin street, we will introduce the reader to different tiny restaurants, cafes and take-aways that co-exist here and create the specific atmosphere of the street. We would like to show the things from the perspective we experienced them during our research. Finally, we will offer our findings and analysis Welcome on board and enjoy our trip through history, space, culture and society!

Research Questions

The purpose of our journalistic inquiry is to find out more about the ways immigrants are globalizing Berlin’s culinary landscape. That is why we chose restaurants and snack bars as focal points for analyzing social interactions along ethnic lines. These restaurants are the obvious source of employment and dining for many immigrants. Many labor immigrants who came to Germany during the 1950s and the 1960s and witnessed several economic recessions since the oil price shock in 1973 became self-employed in the food industry (Hillmann, 1997). However, these restaurants, mostly started by the Italian and Greek labor migrants, were not the first ethnic restaurants in Berlin (Pichler, 2004). Understanding that the competition in the mainstream German cuisine would be tough, they opted in favor of their traditional recipes from their countries of origin. However, ethnic dining does not only attract immigrants. As experience shows, there are quite a few native Germans who run ethnic restaurants and an even greater number of Germans who frequently visit them.

Therefore, these restaurants are not an exclusive domain of immigrants. Rather, they are a space for the interaction of immigrant minorities with the majority, as well as among the minorities, and are shaped by the rules of a free market and increasingly by globalization trends. This space also leads to a greater economic integration of both immigrants and natives, which is defined by Hillmann as an ability and willingness of an individual to purchase products and services. Along with this obvious economic integration, a process of a less tangible cultural integration is taking place. For the purposes of this paper, we define cultural integration as a space for having interethnic dialogues based on respect and mutual understanding.

We traced these ongoing cultural and economic developments on a case-by-case basis. The basis for our analysis was interviews with owners and employees of ethnic restaurants, as well as their customers and neighbors. Our intention was not only to uncover the current social and economic trends of each restaurant, but also its popularity and competitiveness. We also looked at the ways owners and workers perceived the role of their businesses in the context of their neighborhoods and greater Berlin.

This is a comparative analysis of two parts of one street that historically had a quite different exposure to forces of free market and global food exchange. By looking at the number and economic structure of ethnic restaurants on each side of Wollankstraße, we may see the differences, if any, between the two types of economic environments that emerged in East and West Berlin and that may persist until today. 

II.Background Information on Wollankstraße 

Pankow is the northernmost district of Berlin. During the time of the GDR it was the center of the East German political elite. Since 2001 Pankow incorporates parts of the old districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Weißensee. During the reorganization of Berlin’s city district that same year, the working-class district of Wedding that once belonged to West Berlin was teamed up with Tiergarten and Mitte. Wollankstraße runs from Wedding to Pankow, bridging east and west.

Wollankstraße is a street with a unique history, a street of diversity and a street where ordinary life in Berlin takes place. Wollankstraße is a street that belonged to the East as well as the West during the Cold War. It is a street that was split up by the wall that divided Berlin for more than twenty eight years. Wollankstraße is a street where we find a diversity of ethnic businesses and where ordinary Berliner life of the old and young is happening.

The city train (S-Bahn) station “Wollankstraße” was built in 1891. It belonged to the district of Pankow. During the time of the Berlin Wall, this train station was an exception among the Berliner city train stations as it was located exactly on the border between East and West Berlin with access to both sides of the city. Although “Bahnhof Wollankstraße” belonged to Pankow and its employees were from the East and thus worked in GDR uniform, the train station was part of the West Berlin S-bahn system. Only passengers from the West were able to use it. As a result of its location “Bahnhof Wollankstraße” was a window to life and death in the East, as many people died in their attempts to escape along the so-called “death zone strip” or “Todesstreifen”. In 1962, “Bahnhof Wollankstraße” received a lot of public attention after a secret tunnel was discovered. As a consequence of the construction of this tunnel from the Western side of the wall, the train station had been sinking into the ground. 

Today, there is only a small sign commemorating the separation by the wall. People from the East and the West, from Pankow as well as Wedding use the Western access of the train station daily. Life has changed on both sides of “Bahnhof Wollankstraße” but the S-Bahn continues to pursue the same route. 

In contrast to trendy districts such as Kreuzberg or Prenzlauerberg, Pankow seems to be a sleepy and quiet area in the north of Berlin. Strolling through its wide streets one afternoon transports you into the calm atmosphere of what feels like a retirement community. However, seniors actively pace the sidewalks doing their everyday errands. A short visit to a local C&A clothing store reveals a variety of modestly cut shirts and waist-high jeans. The majority of ladies in this store, as the majority of senior Berliners you will meet in the streets of Pankow, lack what today is hip to call “migration background”. Unlike thirty years ago when Pankow belonged to East Berlin and the consumers’ desires did not matter in the state-planned economy, the businesses that line up the streets of Pankow today reflect the purchasing power and preferences of its residents. 

II.Wollankstraße – An Ethnographic View

Now we would like to take you on a walk through Wollankstraße. The first stop we make is at the Café Bistro Esstilo. This bistro serves salads, snacks, sandwiches and a variety of coffee, tea and soups. It is a charming place with a friendly atmosphere. Its interior combines blue-and-white ceramic tiles on the walls, Latin American music and a big picture of a Cuban street above the entrance. Behind the bar stands a smiling lady who welcomes us. It is Judith, a lively East-Berliner in her early thirties, who is the founder, owner and only employee here. Although she has guests sitting outside, she willingly agrees to have a ten-minute interview. As she rinses cups and spoons in a small sink on the counter, she shares her memories about the opening of this café in 1997. 

 Ten to fifteen years ago, very few of the Pankow residents could afford to eat out. The majority of people in this neighborhood cooked and ate at home. This also had to do with the fact that dining out was not in the East German culture. The restaurant experience was more often reserved for holidays or special occasions such as anniversaries.Even though Esstilo does not represent a single ethnic cuisine, it was difficult to start a business that radically differed from the monotonous eateries and had its specific character. Judith, herself a native of Pankow, wishes there were more places with unique atmosphere, be it ethnic restaurants or creative bistros. Today eighty percent of Judith’s customers are regulars from Pankow; Esstilo also attracts a more diverse and younger crowd than most of the other places in the street. Yet, Judith describes her customers as a mixed crowd of young and old people, men and women with the common interest of having high quality food and drinks in a small, modern and well established place like hers. However, Judith also mentions that Pankow and her customers have changed in the last few years. More and more young families have made Pankow their home and with this development a more family-friendly infrastructure has come into being. Judith hopes that there will be more restaurants and businesses like hers in the future. According to her, places like this are still a so-called “Manko in Pankow”, meaning there are still too few of them in Pankow. It is Wednesday morning, around half past eleven, and there are six people sitting outside in her bistro, enjoying their morning with a fresh coffee, a newspaper and the sun. 

This first positive interview on the former Eastern side of Wollankstraße gives us a lot of hope and motivation for continuing with our field work. Unfortunately, very soon afterwards we find out that not all people on Wollankstraße are as open as Judith to our questions. As we enter John’s Bakery we face a German woman behind the counter who instantly refuses to give us an interview with the explanation that she is only an employee who is not allowed to answer any questions to strangers. 

Now We Are a bit Afraid. What Can We Expect from the Rest? 

A few blocks away our senses become enchanted with smells from what seems to be the only döner kebab place in the Eastern part of Wollankstraße. This is a small kebab restaurant Grillhaus Sevcan owned by a Turkish family. Its employee is not a member of the family but a close family friend. As we ask him for a short interview, he pauses for a moment but finally agrees to chat with us. He is definitely open to communicate and even tries to interact by making jokes. He smiles from under his brown baseball hat and asserts that “Döner macht schöner”, “Döner Kebab makes you more beautiful”. It is almost noon and he only has three customers altogether. As he approaches us and asks us to sit down, his customers stay at another table and continue their conversation in Turkish. He speaks Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and broken German and clearly has a talent for communicating and joking with people in the street.

Despite this openness he is somewhat unwilling to talk about the authenticity of his food. When asked about whether the food served here is the same as the food served in his house, he looks away and tells us that no matter what, the food is just as good. Perhaps the recent meat scandals have left a bitter aftertaste for people working in the food industry. Perhaps it is not a polite question to ask when one comes to eat a hearty Turkish döner. Whatever offended him, he continues telling us about the business and his work experience. He likes working at this Kebab in Pankow and he has never experienced any kind of discrimination. On the contrary, most people are friendly, though only a few sit down and eat their food in the snack bar. 

Right across the street is a take-away pizzeria which doubles as a delivery Pizza Max. It is very small and does not seat any customers. Instead, it makes pizza on order. The owner of Pizza Max is a cheerful native of Franken (even though by his appearance you may think he hails from North Africa) in his early thirties, and he speaks fast with a distinct Southern German accent. At first, he is a bit cautious about our questions, but still polite. You can easily sense his punctuality and business-like manner–precise, reliable and always professional. His decision to move his business from Wedding to Pankow had little to do with the neighborhoods themselves. The old pizzeria in Wedding occupied a basement floor with little light and space. A new location on Wollankstraße seemed to be a better option. This pizzeria is one among thirty similar places with the same concept around Berlin. The owner informs us that he employs thirty workers in total and that he has good contact with some of the neighboring cafés and snack bars such as the Grillhaus Sevcan. Still, compared to Café Bistro Esstilo and its relaxed atmosphere, Pizza Max just a hundred meters away is certainly not an oasis of tranquility. That is what makes this street so diverse.

If you would prefer a cozier place with stylish atmosphere, Wollankstraße will answer that need as well. You just have to visit the Indian restaurant Gnesha. The smell of the aromatic sticks and the gentle music makes you feel comfortable in here. The employee is a young girl from Pankow. She is polite, yet reserved and shy but after we order a meal she warms up to a conversation. She tells us that the Indian restaurant has already been there since 1998. It is not a family business but a small business employing her and two Indian kitchen staff. She mentions that most of the customers are from Pankow and Wedding. There are also many African and Polish customers enjoying the food and atmosphere at the restaurant. Although there is another Indian restaurant on Wollankstraße, just a few meters away, she reports that Gnesha is doing good business. According to her, Indian food has become a real trend in Pankow during the last ten years.

The tour of ethnic restaurants in the former Eastern part of Wollankstraße ends with a tiny Asian food eatery called Europe-Asia Imbiss. It is a wooden shack sitting under the S-Bahn railway. The worker who we find inside is in fact a Vietnamese-looking young man. He refuses to give us an interview with the explanation that he does not speak enough German or English to communicate with us. However, his answer is rather fluent and we get the impression that he simply does not want to talk to us.

The first place we would like to take you on the former West side of the street is Alt-Berliner-Eck pub. It is located, well, on the corner of Wollankstraße and another adjacent street. At eleven o’clock on a Friday morning it has four middle-aged and senior guests sitting around the counter with beers and cigarettes. They appear to know each other well. In fact, most of them look like they do not work, either due to retirement or unemployment. The bartender refuses to talk to us because she is an employee and is afraid that her boss might not approve of her giving an interview to strangers. Instead, a man whose beer is almost finished lights up a cigarette and shares some insights about this neighborhood. According to him, many Berliners living in Wedding started to move out at the same time as more foreigners moved in. It is just a game of words that his definition of “Berliners” includes white Germans, while “foreigners” are Middle-Eastern, African or Asian-looking neighbors who may have lived in Germany all their lives but do not qualify as Germans based on their culture or country of origin. If things continue to be this way, he says, he might consider moving out of Pankow as well. While we talked with him, the bartender seemed very dissatisfied with our presence. 

Our next stop is La Boulangerie – a small bakery that appears to not have anything to do with ethnically diverse food at first glance. Inside, one finds the traditional croissants sitting next to yummy borek slices and a fridge full of Turkish yogurt and cheeses. When asked about the social atmosphere in the street, the young cashier mentions that today there are many “boys” in this area who make trouble. She is young, sportily dressed and does not wear any make up. In the beginning she is a bit reluctant, but as our questions go on she actually becomes interested in our research and seems to be enjoying the conversation. According to her, the neighborhood is not a pleasant place to live because it is dirty and there are many trouble-makers living in the area. She tells us that this bakery belongs to her family who live in another district in Western Berlin. She was born and educated in Berlin but her family has Turkish origins, which explains why she is bilingual and why the bakery also offers some Turkish produce. 

Here comes Restaurant Adria – Internationale Spezialitäten. It is a cozy restaurant that is a little more expensive. During our time here there is an elderly lady who is having lunch at one of the tables. The owner speaks with a thick accent. She tells us that her place is a family business serving not only Croatian but also international cuisine. According to her, there is no pattern in terms of who is coming to eat there. Yet, she mentions that fish is certainly one of the favorite dishes of her customers. Although her business has been on Wollankstraße for a number of years, she does not have contact with other business people located in the street. 

Now, we would like to take you to another Pizzeria Hellini. It has a totally different appearance than the one we introduced earlier. When we enter inside it is 11:45 a.m. and there are six people there having coffee and beer. Hellini offers a surprising mix of Mexican and Italian food. Its owner is an easy-going man in his thirties. His customers are sipping their draft beers. They joke that the owner makes a special garlic pizza for his wife that he does not sell. He says that the reason why he is not selling this creation is because people would not appreciate the strong garlic taste. Among the customers is a French man who also lives in Wedding. This is their favorite place to meet and spend time. When asked how they think the street will be in a few years, they tell us that there will probably be fewer restaurants because people have less and less money to spend since the introduction of the Euro. They fear that a legislation banning smoking in public places will also decrease the number of customers. The owner shares these concerns. He informs us that “the favorite meal of many of his customers is beer”. On the next day as we pass by Hellini, we see the same familiar faces. 

Our last stop is at a small snack bar called Libanesisch-Orientalische Spezialitäten. We are surprised to find traditional falafel and schowarma next to pizza on the menu. The prices are extremely low. A small vegetarian pizza is 2, 50 € and a falafel is 1, 50 €. The food is delicious and the owner relaxes after we praise the quality of the food. He tells us that he is self-employed and that this is his first self-owned business. He lives in Neuköln, another district of Berlin, but opened the bistro on Wollankstraße because the rent was cheap. The place just opened two month ago and so far he only has twenty five to thirty customers per day. He decided to have pizza on the menu because before he opened his snack-bar this used to be an Italian pizzeria. At the moment, he hopes for more customers but is confident that through the word of mouth and cheap prices this will soon become a reality. He is also planning to have a delivery service and expand his business slightly. So far, however, he is struggling to survive and to establish himself in the neighborhood. 

III. Findings and Discussion

These ethnic restaurants, snack bars, or even shacks play a very interesting role in Berlin’s gustatory life. Although they may have tiny dining rooms these places are among the greatest promoters of globalization in their neighborhoods. At the same time these restaurants are globalizing Berliners’ tastes, they are the result of immigration in Berlin and Germany. Therefore, there is not a clear distinction between the immigration history into Germany and the country’s globalization. Rather, immigration folds into global trends such as an increased mobility of people, capital, information and, in our case, culinary recipes, across the borders. 

We may not think about a Turkish kebab place in the midst of Pankow as very cosmopolitan, but in fact it is a sign of modernity. The immigrants who offer their food to the society of their host country become active participants in globalization rather than its passive attributes. As long as Germans are curious about the Lebanese food, their demand for fresh dining will only grow. On the supply side, this demand has to be matched by the immigrants’ willingness to open and run such restaurants. And someone has to take the risk and make the first step, as in case of Judith who was among the first to open a Cuban-themed bistro in Wollankstraße ten years ago. The Lebanese entrepreneur followed suit in early 2007, when he started to prepare Lebanese sandwiches and hummus plates for those who would care to step inside his small eatery. 

There is one common feature that puts these entrepreneurs in the same boat. All of them are taking advantage of the Germans’ expanding culinary tastes, and they are actually expanding these tastes simply by being there. The owners who opened their restaurants in the former East Berlin had to be even more assertive in order to initiate a culture of eating out in the part of the city that did not have a long history of customer service. In a sense, they faced more problems than the entrepreneurs from the former West. In the process of establishing their eateries, the recipes had to be changed to suit the mainstream tastes of the customers. As our Lebanese chef told us, many of his diners ask to make their dishes spicier than he would do at his home. In addition, he does not break away with the clientele of a pizzeria that existed in this place before he bought it from its owners. He offers six varieties of pizza along with his traditional Middle-Eastern dishes in order to cater to the customers who remember this place for its pizzas. This is a good example of why flexibility is a key requirement for a successful business. Perhaps the presence of pizza on the menu of Lebanesische Spezialitäten makes it look familiar to his customers so they feel more comfortable to try a new taste of a Middle Eastern recipe. A similar logic may have encouraged the owner of Hellini to combine the better known Italian cuisine with the Mexican cuisine that is less prevalent here. 

The process in which self-employed entrepreneurs spark a new culture of ethnic food tasting can seem very different from the notorious McDonaldization everywhere in Europe. While there is no chance that two hamburgers from McDonalds purchased in two locations across the city will taste different, one can hope that every döner bar has a tiny special feature about it, such as the way the meat is grilled or the sauce is prepared. Realizing that food is a delicate health issue, the Berlin city authorities have considered some measures to standardize the preparation of döner, as with an attempt to pass a döner purity law (Hillmann 1997). And while these regulations are meant to eliminate the potential harm from a badly cooked meal, they may also stand in the way of an authentic-tasting dish. This may be the trade off the Berliners need to accept when they expect to find the most exotic meals in a restaurant down the street.  

For example, one family’s decision to open a restaurant or a snack bar serving Turkish or Thai food invites other people to inter-cultural eating. When döner kebab or spicy noodles go international, we get a snapshot of globalization itself. Think back to McDonalds and the way its widespread popularity is associated with the global economy. The same happens in the realm of ethnic food, as the most exotic dishes from Hong Kong or the Balkans appear in Berlin and, increasingly, in former East Berlin. Why the process of ethnic food “migration” faces fewer objections than McDonalds remains to be seen. Yet it is obvious that both are a part of a very similar mechanism that involves an increased mobility of people and capital. 

The self-employed immigrants from different parts of the world are the pioneers of ethnic cuisine market. Their idea to feed Germans with dishes from their home countries could hardly be patented but was original at the beginning. Today they are creating ways for a variety of people to eat, either cheaply on the run or with sophistication. By doing so, they create more ways to earn and spend money. New and growing markets are traditionally seen as a positive development by citizens and governments alike. 

In fact, two of our Turkish interviewees said that their businesses are run by families. Family business has long been a tradition among self-employed immigrants. In today’s globalized world it takes on a new meaning. The labor positions created with any new döner restaurant get outsourced to those who demand less for their work, usually, the family members of the owner. This is not to say that we should expect ethnic restaurants to employ exclusively their family members. This dynamic shows that immigrants who run their own restaurants now participate in the globalizing labor market. 

IV. Conclusion

Throughout the course of our research we did not find a big gap in the number of ethnic restaurants in the former East and West along Wollankstraße. Despite better chances for starting a small business in the West, very few had been situated here before the Berlin Wall came down. Most of the dining places in this street opened about a decade ago when the economic atmosphere of both East and West Wollankstraße leveled out somewhat. The owners mentioned no obvious cases of discrimination. They feel generally welcomed in this neighborhood. 

However, there are some instances of “unofficial” discrimination against the minorities. It may stem, at least to some degree, from the old thinking about the Wall and longing for its protection against the influx of foreigners. For example, some neighbors in Wedding see the increasing wave of immigration into the area as an undesirable trend. Our interviewees use the terms “immigrants” to describe the residents who are different from them but may actually be born and raised in Germany. A psychological need to live in a predictable and familiar environment gives way to the more experimental co-habitation with neighbors who are different. The same interviewees who negatively reflect on the growing number of “immigrants” in Wedding do not see their small ethnic businesses as the vehicles of this increase. This shows that economic integration precedes a wider cultural acceptance of immigrants by the native Germans. In Pankow and Wedding, an exchange between people is taking place through food and, as we already observed, the culinary field is one where the distinction between the economic and the cultural blurs. If this theory is accurate, then the more we buy and eat of each other’s traditional cuisine the less likely we are to view each other as strangers. 

Another important aspect of this exchange is consumers’ ability to buy from these restaurants. So far, the prices along Wollankstraße are somewhat lower than in other parts of Berlin, reflecting the overall residential nature of Pankow and Wedding and their remoteness from popular tourist destinations. Therefore, the ethnic food restaurants that we surveyed have local importance. Most of them offer limited seating and at least one dish that one can grab on the go. On the one hand, this makes them affordable to more people. On the other hand, it transforms the original dishes into the more familiar hybrids of fast food. This proves that ethnic dining needs to be standardized and unique at the same time. Nothing stays the same, including the level of spiciness that many cooks learn to adjust to according to their customers’ preferences (more spice than usual in Middle Eastern cuisine, less in Indian dishes). 

It is clear that Germans with immigrant backgrounds are at the vanguard of the ethnic dining establishment. Their businesses are globalizing Berlin’s culinary scene and are being affected by forces of globalization at the same time. One thing for sure, they offer more opportunities for interaction among and learning from diverse cultures, even in Berlin – a city that already has a great deal of cosmopolitan character.




I. Interviews:

Edith Pichler, assistant professor at Humboldt Univeristät Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, (June 25, 2007).

We appreciate the contributions of owners and workers of the abovementioned restaurants who wished to remain anonymous. 

II. Articles:

Barthlemy, Andrea: ‘Vom Lambrusco zum Espresso: Italiener und ihre Klischee in Deutschland’, dpa, Berlin, pp. 11-12. 

Bommes, Michael, Holger Kolb: ‘Economic Integration, Work, Entrepreneurship State-of-the Art Report’, IMIS- Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, University of Osnabrück, December 2004, pp. 1-36.

Cowen, Tyler: ‘Is Globalization Changing The Way The World Eats?’, International Association of Culinary Professionals, 26th Annual Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, April 2004, pp. 1-9.

Fox, Robin: ‘Food and Eating: An Anthropological Perspective’, in: Social Issues Research Centre, pp. 1-22.

Hilmann, Felicitas, Rudolph, Hedwig: ‘Redistributing the Cake? Ethnicisation Processes in the Berlin Food Sector’, Discussion paper, Social Sciences Research Center Berlin, March 1997, pp. 1-24.

Picher, Edith: ‘Pioniere, Arbeitsmigranten, Rebellen, Postmoderne und Mobile: Italiener in Berlin’, in Archiv für Sozialgeschichte Bd. 42, 2002, Bonn. p. 10.

Rada, Uwe: ‘Italienisch für Fortgeschrittene’. Tageszeitung, December 12, 2002. 

Spiewak, Martin: ‘Du bist Döner’. DIE ZEIT, Nr. 50, December 8, 2005 , p. 46.

III. Books:

Schulte-Peevers, Andrea, Parkins, Tom: ‘Berlin City Guide’, Lonely Planet Publications, 2004.

IV. Websites

Bahnhof Berlin Wollankstraße, “Train stration Wollankstraße” http://de.wikipedia.org, (June 22, 2007).

Hotel- und Gaststättengewerbe Berlin, http://www.hoga-berlin.com/, (June 21, 2007).

MÜSIAD Berlin e.V. http://www.muesiad-berlin.de/, (June 24, 2007).

Tourism Watch, http://www.tourism-watch.de/dt/39dt/39.vienna/index.html, (June 24, 2007).

Türkisch-Deutsche Unternehmervereinigung Berlin-Brandenburg e.V. (TDU) http://www.tdu-berlin.de/, (June 26, 2007).


Facts and Figures:

Restaurants/Snack-Bars on Wollankstraße

Ethnic Restaurants East and West Berlin


1.) Bistro-Café Esstilo

2.) Neu-Delhi

3.) Gaststätte zur Eiche

4.) BIP

5.) Café Pizza

6.) Steakhouse Barbecue II

7.) Bäckerei Johns Konditorei

8.) Pizza Max

9.) Ginesha, Indische Spezialitäten

10.) Sevcan Grillhouse

11.) Steinecke’s Heidebrot Backstube

12.) Euro-Asia Imbiss


1.) Alt Berliner Pub

2.) Zur Molle (only drinks)

3.) Wollank Bäckerei

4.) China Imbiss Wing Seng

5.) La Boulangerie

6.) Orientalische Spezialitäten

7.) Pizzeria Café, italienische & mexikanisch

8.) Adria-Internationale Küche

9.) Am Friedhof

10.) Bogenhompf

Total: 22 places

Interviews: 4 in Pankow, 4 in Wedding

4 refusals, 1 not useful (Zur Molle-only drunk men)

This is the general guideline of the questions we posed to the owners, workers, customers and neighbors. However, most of the interviews were rather spontaneous and the questions were most of the times not literally used.

Questions to the owner:

1. General

What is the history of your business?

When did it start operating? 

When did you (your parents or grandparents) come to Germany? 

What were the difficulties in starting this business?

2. About the customers:

How many people do you serve a day?

How many of them come regularly? 

What are the kinds of interaction with your customers?

How did you find out about your customers’ food tastes and preferences? 

Did you have to adjust or change recipies? If yes, how?

Does you restaurant have an educational or cultural component? If yes, what is it? 

Have you faced any discrimination or violence in connection to the establishment of your business?

3. About globalization:

Where do you get your ingredients from? 

Do you know where your food supplies come from?

How do you control the authenticity and quality of your ingredients? 

Is there an ethnic Turkish (Chinese, Thai) food store where you get your ingredients? 

4. What is next?

How do you see your business in the context of your neighborhood (essential, popular, ignored, in tough competition)? 

Do you feel at home/ welcomed/comfortable? 

Do you feel a part of greater Berlin/Germany? 

Questions to the customers:

1. General

Do you like the food? Are you satisfied with the quality of what you get here? 

How often do you come here?

How often do you eat this type of food? 

Do you feel any emotional attachment to this place/the food they serve here?

What other places do you like to visit?

Do you get to know anything about the culture of the owners/the country of origin of this restaurant? Does eating here stir your interest about it?

Do you think this place fits the atmosphere of the neighborhood/street?

Do you care about the origin of the products the food is made of? 

Do you know where it comes from?

Questions to the neighbors:

How do you feel about having so many different restaurants on your street?

Do you think they fit in your street/neighborhood/Berlin/Germany? 

Do you like that diversity or would you prefer if some of them weren’t here?

Do you go to eat at some of those places?

Do you remember when some of those places were open?

Do you think they have changed after the fall of the Berlin Wall?

Can you sense any significant difference between the east and the west part of the street?


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HIA Program:

Germany Germany 2007


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