How We Lost Our Living Rooms
There are so many reasons to feel crushed by the Corona virus. Being isolated. Being afraid of getting sick. Being afraid of getting any of your loved ones sick. The panic of a big recession. Losing your job, because your company has to let go people.
And then there is the loss of your life style - in my case: watching movies in cinemas, plays in theaters, enjoying art openings, galleries or book readings, hunting treasures on flea markets and in vintage stores.
And most importantly: Going to restaurants at night, to have some drinks, see friends, gather with girl friends, watch strangers passing by, enjoy the specific situation of being in the open but at the same time feeling cared for, like: when you sat down at home for daily lunch or dinner your mother prepared for you.
When we heard over the radio last Monday, that all restaurants would be closed in Switzerland from midnight that day, we decided to skip our new cooking-at-home-routine that we picked up since we moved to our little house in the countryside some days earlier - and go out for dinner.
As we just were in Zurich, we went to "Kronenhalle", a place we had many remarkable dinners, often alone, just the two of us, then again with the family, with visiting friends, with colleagues, for birthdays, anniversaries, even once for Christmas. "Kronenhalle" always felt special, made ordinary evenings extraordinary. So why not celebrate the last night there.
We were terribly disappointed when we found out that "Kronenhalle" had already closed that very afternoon.
Driving home we felt quite depressed, realizing what we would miss within this crisis - and asked ourselves, why closing the restaurants is maybe harder for us than any other consequence or rule. Like, that we are now stuck in Switzerland, the borders closed to family and friends in Germany, Italy and the US. The even stronger rules that may come, when we will no longer be allowed to leave the house.
But cutting us off from going to restaurants is so much more existential to us.
You have to know that we always chose two, three places, not more, in a city and then become regulars. In Munich, in Zurich, in Berlin, even in New York..
When "Elaine`s" on the upper East Side closed its doors forever in 2011, we got there every night during that last week, saying goodbye to all the waiters, the barmen, some of the other regulars.
When we left Munich, we only felt discharged after we had one last big party at our favorite bar, "Schumann´s" with all our friends.
And in Berlin? Don´t get me started. "Paris Bar" was kind of our living room for the last twenty years whenever we were in town, the patron became a dear friend, the chief barman a family member.
"Manzini" was another favorite, for late brunches and early summer dinners, with its elegant waiters and classic menu to be personalized for our special needs - who next to your mother would treat you with a "Vegetarian Club Sandwich"?
"Diener Tattersall" with its German menu and the walls filled with portraits of regulars, movie and theater stars from the last fifty years (some of them still coming), and Gitti and Gabi waitressing - the two of them run a place with more than a hundred people and never leave anyone without a cold bear for longer than a minute; how we loved to play cards there deep into the wee hours. Or meet after the movies to celebrate. a special premiere.
"Mozzarella Bar" who serves the best "Insalata Carciofi" and guarantees the best location on hot summer nights in the middle of Berlin´s "Mitte"
And last but not least the "Grill Royal" and its little sister, the "Petit Royal", both places run by old friends and full of brilliant people. Everybody you wish to meet comes by, no appointments necessary. At our last night in Berlin we more or less accidentally ran into everyone we now will miss longer that anyone could have imagined.
This is my tribute to everyone in this universe who made our lives so much richer. Thank you to Michel, Bessem and his extended team, Ahmed and Pasquale and all their colleagues, Gitti and Gabi, Andrea and Bezmir, Jeanne, Andrea, Boris and Stephan, to name just a few - everyone who works hard every night to treat us like family members.
How I wish that you guys will survive this crisis, that you will re-open in all your glam and glory..
And welcome us once more - and as often as possible - in a near future.