Russian-German Artem Hein is the founder and co-owner of Vater Bar in Berlin-Neukölln. Together with business partner Andreas Simon, he has recently taken over the Weserstraße bar Kuschlowski that they have transformed into a delightful vegan restaurant. We talked to Artem about his Neukölln story which turned into one of the most charming interviews of all time.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in the veldt of Altaiskii Krai, a place where you can see far into the horizon. But I was raised in Lippe a district in western Germany, Lippe where the view did not stretch so far, but instead was full of trees.
What is the strongest memory you have of your hometown?
Space. Maybe because I was a child or because of the Soviet city structure. But everywhere, there was open space. Space to do both nice and weird things – things you do in Russia.
When did you come in Germany?
At the age of 10, I arrived with all my family: Uncles, my grandmother and my father. What a lovely place it was to grow up finish school – and then leave!
What brought you to Berlin?
After living abroad in Romania and Russia for a short while, I wanted to finish my masters in political science in the German city of Münster. I wanted to leave Germany for good, but before I did so, I decided to spend one or two years in Berlin… That was ten years ago.
What do you do?
Well, I spend most of my time working. It takes a lot and a lot of work to run two places. But since my work does not truly feel like work for me, basically I am not doing much. Which is why I ended up living the big city life. All this neurotic business, meeting all the people you know, talk about how high the rents are, and who has moved back to Prenzlauer Berg because in Neukölln the rents are too high.
You have created Vater Bar and Kuschlowski – two of our favorite places in Berlin. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I started with Vater Bar back in 2011 on my own. One morning I told myself that I cannot run away from my plan B anymore and asked everyone I knew to borrow a bit of money. Back than I was not a much of a bar guy. So I tried to create a place I would love to be at.
The idea is a flowing space that can exist outside all expectations and ephemeral ideologies. So everybody can have their own ideas of what this places is or should be. At some point my friend Andreas joined me. So suddenly it was the two of us now working on this idea.
A little over a year ago, we took over the Kuschlowski which had been run for over ten years by a lovely Russian couple and their friend Angelo. All of them enjoy the life in the nature outside Berlin now. Its intimacy in a street like Weserstraße was exactly what we asked for. We have started to serve food here so delicious, it will leave you speechless. I think everyone should come past to try it – or not!
Why did you decide to open those two places in Neukölln?
This neighborhood through its history is never settling down and still changing every two or three months. It is the perfect place to relish in freedom and enjoy a nice drink and something to eat. Before going to “work” to earn money for your high rent.
What do you love (or hate) about Berlin?
This city is full of both things – things I hate and things I love. I guess this is a luxury and I do not think there are many more places on this planet you can have that feeling. I mean really love, and really hate.
What is your contribution to make Berlin a little bit more beautiful?
Ehmm. To be honest: I create things so that I have a beautiful environment to hang out in. So I guess that makes me quite egotistical. But on the other side I am also very happy that I can meet so many beautiful people in this year, and together we can have a good time and enjoy the environment.
What is your favorite place in Berlin?
This is where I can sneak in some product placement right?! Well, obviously it is Vater Bar and Kuschlowski, the two bars I created with my business partner and friend Andreas, if you are up for food drinks and a great atmosphere.
But seriously, I like those kinds of streets where lots and lots of people pass by in a casual manner, like Weserstraße for example. Sitting there and having an espresso (or five), and listening to fragments of whatever conversation you can grasp from passers by. Out of these pieces of information, a weird puzzle that is Berlin can be created. I still wonder if it is an accurate one. I tend to think it is.