About the Bar
Get the U-Bahn U7 to Neukölln. Walk up to the shopping mall above it. Head to the elevators. Push for the 5th floor. You’ll come out in a car park. Don’t be confused by the parked cars. Walk past them up the ramp to the 6th level. You are now at the highest tank bar in the world.
Klunkerkranich is around 50m off the ground, which somehow seems appropriate for a bar named after the wattled crane, a sub-Saharan species of bird. It’s certainly got a bird’s eye view of the Berlin cityscape, a breath-taking, far-reaching 360˚ panorama. Try it at sunset. It’s an almost mystical experience. Especially with a Pilsner Urquell tank beer in your hand.
Like other bars in Berlin, Klunkerkranich is hard to define. It’s not a beer garden, it’s not a club, it’s not a sustainable living project, it’s not a performance space. It’s a happening. A cultural phenomenon.
“Almost every bar group in Berlin was given the opportunity to open a bar here but no-one thought it could work”, explains Jules, one of the owners. “It was on the market for two years. I guess they just couldn’t see past the 2,500 square metre expanse of grey car park.
But when we came up here, we didn’t see concrete, we saw light! We’d been working in a basement bar up until then – so we were inspired by the big skies”.
Before they were bar owners, Josh, Jules and Dorle were a headhunter, film student and teacher. “It all began when our car wouldn’t start”, says Jules with a smile. “It was Christmas 2008. We were heading to France to shoot a short film but the car wouldn’t start so we all had to go to my mother’s apartment. An idea was born that night to have a place in the city that everybody could drop into when they were in town.
So we rented an apartment with a basement space, where we held a party each month. It gradually turned into a club. We had some problems with noise and it lacked the space we needed for our other cultural interests so we started looking for somewhere bigger.
We then set up a basement bar under the old Kindl brewery, a 16,000ft space where we put on immersive theatre, plays and opera. We called the bar Zuhaus, home in German, where live bands played. We loved doing that. Then the car park opportunity came up.
“Know your business but make friends wherever you go.”
We planned Klunkerkranich at the end of 2012 and started building in March 2013. It took us six weeks to get everything ready. We opened in May 2013. Our philosophy is that we’re open to everyone. We don’t target a particular group – we’ve just tried to create an open area where everyone can find their own space.
“Klunkerkranich shows that anything is possible in Berlin!”
There are three central pillars to what we’re trying to do here. One is education. We are the first and only community roof garden in Berlin and our goal is to teach people about sustainable living – and nature in big cities. Dorle is an ex-teacher, so we think it’s important to encourage schoolchildren to learn about urban gardening. All our vegetables are used in the kitchen and our herbs used in our cocktails. The second pillar is cultural. We host theatre performances, poetry readings, DJ sets, live music and performance artists from all backgrounds. We’ve even set up a cinema now. The third pillar is gastronomic. We sell good simple food and Pilsner Urquell is a good fit for us. It is authentic and is part of the culture in Czech.
Because we’re on top of a car park, with a 2m maximum height, we have to get a special small Sprinter transit van to deliver our beer twice every week – with a special container strapped on the side developed only for us so it can fit in the smaller car and can be filled in the brewery. Everyone likes the beer and I’m proud the relationship has worked so well, certainly well over our expectations.
In my opinion, people come for the location first, then are surprised by the entertainment and quality of the beer. Klunkerkranich continues to inspire me. There are new skies every day and always something new to do. I’ve definitely learned more in the past few years than the previous 20 years.”