Pret A Diner Pops Up Again in Berlin
All Things Must Pass
All Things Must Pass
The allure of the ephemeral is hard to resist. If it wasn’t so captivating, florists would all be selling plastic flowers and pop-up businesses wouldn’t be such successful crowd-pleasers. Creative-minded restaurateur Klaus-Peter Kofler, an entrepreneur who’s been dabbling in the ephemeral for many years, has managed to reinvent his offerings time and time again. His Pret A Diner eateries have popped up in cities such as Frankfurt, London, Zurich and Basel only to disappear a few days or weeks later, leaving behind not a trace of their existence. Every incarnation is unlike the other, but all materialize at spots one wouldn’t normally expect to sup. This transitory tavern was recently slated to pop up in Berlin on the occasion of the Berlinale, the movable feast’s second appearance in the German capital since its inception in 2011. This time its cleverly worded motto was ‘The Audience,’ which trains the spotlight rather overtly on the guests and more subtly on the main sponsor, whose name is spelled out with the first four letters of the motto’s only noun. satis&fy was to pop up too, to furnish technical services.
Decking out a restaurant with AV and lighting gear doesn’t sound like much of a challenge for seasoned pros. However, the crew, on its first walk-through on location, looked more like a synchronized chin-stroking team at some alternative-reality Olympics. The event was to take place in Berlin Kreuzberg in an empty derelict of a building that once housed the offices of a subway car manufactory. What do the working spaces of an office mole tasked to archive subway car blueprints and a boutique restaurant impresario have in common? Not much, as it turns out. Even the simplest task, delivery, proved tricky: The entire content of a trailer with miles of cable had to be hoisted up to the third floor in a small outdoor elevator in the courtyard. But just half the battle is won with cables, which are generally pointless without electricity. The in-house power situation was iffy at best, and fryers and steamers have a healthy appetite for juice, not to mention the projectors for 3D art installations, sound reinforcement for live acts, and the LED lighting to evoke that laid-back lounge vibe.
This is where the close cooperation with Pret A Diner staff proved invaluable. After a friendly little parlay, this and that nice-to-have piece of kitchen equipment was deemed dispensable. Everyone had their sights set on the same goal—to conjure a magical place and give The Audience something to talk about. It was achieved right after that billowing cloud of dust left by the construction workers finally settled. For three weeks running, this 340 m2 dining room took reservations at fixed slots for 90 foodies and party people to relish the divine Peruvian cuisine served up by London’s trendy Pachamama, take in the street art on display, and even pick up a brush to leave a little art behind.
While others in the room were intent on sampling miso-style pickled carrots on quinoa and smoked yogurt, one individual was occupied with a very different mission. Every night a crew member remained on duty to keep an eye on the equipment and make sure there were no glitches to break the spell. Now we’ll be taking our cables elsewhere. And we’ll be happy to do so for Kofler & Co., who will be heading to Ibiza and Dubai next, always in pursuit of that ineffable allure of the ephemeral.