Berlin Restaurant Shut Down Due To Covid, Turns Shelter Home For Homeless
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t made life on the streets of Berlin any easier for Kaspars Breidaks.
For three months, the 43-year-old Latvian has faced homeless shelters operating at reduced capacity so that people can be kept at a safe distance from one another. And with fewer Berliners going outdoors, it’s much harder to raise money by panhandling or collecting bottles to sell for recycling.
But on a chilly winter morning this week Breidaks found himself with a free hot meal and a place to warm up, after the German capital’s biggest restaurant, the Hofbraeu Berlin — itself closed down due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions — shifted gears to help the homeless.
“Other homeless people at the train station told me about this place,” Breidaks said, removing a furry black hat with long ear flaps as he sat on a bench in the warm, spacious beer hall near Berlin’s landmark Alexanderplatz square.
“I came here for hot soup.” It was a restaurant employee who volunteers at a shelter who proposed opening up the shuttered Bavarian-style beer hall — patterned after the famous Munich establishment of the same name — to the homeless.
It was a clear win-win proposition, said Hofbraeu manager Bjoern Schwarz. As well as helping out the homeless during tough times the city-funded project also gives needed work to employees — and provides the restaurant with welcome income.
In cooperation with the city and two welfare organizations, the restaurant quickly developed a concept to take in up to 150 homeless people in two shifts every day until the end of the winter, and started serving meals on Tuesday.
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