It’s an exciting time to be in Berlin. People are arriving here from all over, and bringing with them the ideas they have about the things they are passionate about. They’re coming here, taking chances, and shaking things up! To our eyes, this is resulting in a refreshing culture emerging of small, independent, family run businesses who are not afraid to do things their own way.
We wanted to take a closer look at some of our friends who are also in the business of hospitality. Places which are stepping outside the box, and perhaps shaping the world little by little while doing it. We thought a good place to start would be to talk to some of the cafes and restaurants around Berlin who stock our Fountain of Youth. These businesses each have a unique story, and we wanted to find out how they got to where they are.
Our first excursion was to Gordon, a cafe and record store in Schillerkiez, Neukölln. Nir Ivenizki and Doron Eisenberg are the two men behind Gordon. They are the owners, the builders of the furniture, the makers and servers of the food and the coffee, and the selectors of the music. It makes sense that this business has such a personal touch…ever since Nir and Doron began working together in 2006, they have been creating and building things together. And you really get the feeling that Gordon is the natural extension of that.
Nir and Doron, both from Tel Aviv, met while studying music in 1997. They are both DJs, and ran successful parties together in their city, before relocating to Berlin in 2011. While still in Tel Aviv, they founded a record label called Legotek, and one of the major visions of the label was to open a record store.
Nir and Doron wanted a shop that was accessible and affordable and they figured that the best way to do this was to open a cafe alongside the record store. Nir says that another factor was that when he was doing record shopping himself, he would have liked to have somewhere to sit and have a coffee. Or somewhere for his girlfriend to read or use the wifi while he browsed the records.
So they’ve made all these things available at Gordon. As well as a small menu of Israeli food, which they said was lacking in Berlin. They do sandwiches, and four main dishes such as shakshuka or hummus and pickles. Like the decor and the furniture, the menu is simple yet thought through and to the point.
While we were there, Doron asked us what we thought their logo was all about. We were put on the spot for a minute, but then looking around, it became clear…Like the cafe itself, the logo is about simple things coming together to a central point, yet still being independent. The brief they gave to their graphic designer was that they wanted a logo that conveyed a sense of calm, to be simple and to be honest.
There are two reasons why the cafe is called Gordon. The first is that the location of the rooftop parties Nir and Doron threw in Tel Aviv was located on Gordon street. And in turn, that street was named after A.D. Gordon, a Zionist ideologue who lived a simple life as an agricultural worker. He championed organic bonds in society, like those of family, community and nation, over “mechanical” bonds, like those of state, party and class, and Nir and Doron clearly identify with some of his philosophies.
When establishing Gordon, it was important for them to create a space that had a strong neighbourhood feeling. Where people felt welcome to use the space for a variety of reasons. And so they get people coming from all over – some for the food, some for the music and some for the style of the place. Their concept from before they even opened was to be lots of different things to lots of different people, and we think they’ve definitely succeeded.