12. Sep
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Your place under the silver maple

In the Buchkantine (book canteen) you can buy books and drink coffee. In between there are children, pensioners and business people. A visit to a peaceful but lively place – cozy and at the same time completely digitalized. 

They open at 10:00 sharp. At 10 o’clock sharp, the first guests arrive. Chairs are moved. Would you rather sit inside or outside? There under the beautiful and ancient silver maple, with a view of the Spree. Which breakfast do you prefer, sweet or hearty? Would you prefer a fresh orange juice or a latte? 

Welcome to the Buchkantine, a café with a bookstore or a bookstore with a café, depending on your needs. 30 people work for the café and three for the bookshop. “We have thrown together what doesn’t really belong together,” says Fridolin Taudtmann, 35 years old. He is owner and boss. A not very big but energetic man. Black hair with the first silver strands.

Fridolin Taudtmann in the Buchkantine

He talks fast and decisive. When he laughs, it bursts out of him. And the way he talks about his shop, about the many hours he puts in here every day, about the many thoughts he has, morning, noon and night, you can clearly see his passion for his work. Today, he says, it is running today, but it’s been a long way until then.

A café, he reports, is loud and fast and hectic. A bookshop is quiet and slow and tranquil. “It took us a while, exchanging all the machines and work processes once, until we could say that both harmonized,” says Taudtmann. Wide aisles, a separate room for the children to play in, the terrace outside, the bookstore itself, the large bright room, the large windows – it is cozy and modern at the same time. A real Berlin café where everyone feels at home: from students to pensioners, from singles with laptops to young couples with children.

Fridolin Taudtmann studied horticulture, but already worked in the catering trade during his studies. First in a notorious discotheque, then in the book canteen, at that time still at a different location. He wrote his bachelor’s thesis in a café, all he needed was his laptop and a power outlet. That got him hooked, or as he would say, “My love of food service.” 

In 2011, they moved to Dortmunder Straße on the corner of Bundesratufer, right in the middle of the Westfalian neighborhood, only 15 minutes’ walk from Charlottenbogen. Suddenly they had not only 120 square meters, but 400. And in 2011 it was also when Fridolin Taudtmann was faced with a decision: Will he go into science or will he become a restaurateur? Will he join in, become a co-owner or not? He made his decision, even if it meant hard work, little free time and a high risk. “My parents are not really like that, teachers and nurses. But I had been driven by ambition. The adventure of gastronomy. I wanted to know,” he says today.

If you see him sitting at his favorite place today, at his laptop, you could still think he is a student. Yet he is writing duty rosters, making orders and taking care of the digitalization of his café. “We use a ton of milk, a ton of oranges and a ton of coffee a month. The café is like a well-oiled machine,” he says. And he is taking care of the management. At the touch of a button on a stylish, red glowing cube, you can call the waiters to their seats to order or pay. The waiters will then have the bill ready right away.

Around 90 percent of all processes in the café are digitally designed and evaluated, says Taudtmann. His analysis programs combine the experience of recent years with weather reports and weekdays and can predict approximately 80 percent of how many guests will arrive when and how much they will order.

“So I can plan, allocate my staff well and offer a fixed shift work. This is very important and not common in the catering industry. It allows my employees to start families and to plan their free time well,” he says and is proud of it. Three times a week he still runs the bar himself. So that he still knows how to do it and what the customers want from all the administration.

And the bookstore? It profits, according to Taudtmann. Guests come to the café and decide on a book and vice versa. The employed booksellers are in the middle of life and not alone in their little shop. And it creates atmosphere.

My name is Karl, I am a journalist in Berlin and I'm here to write reports about your new neighborhood.