The Berlin innkeeper has to dismantle the tables

Virginia Servan and her brother Enrique Servan have been running the Peruvian restaurant Serrano in Wilmersdorf for eleven years. But now they are afraid for their existence. It’s not just the corona crisis that causes them problems. Now they also have problems with the regulator for open-air gastronomy, and they have to cut three-quarters of the seats. The reason was a complaint from a local resident.

“The only reason I could cry was because it weighs me down so much and makes me so sad. First Corona destroyed our business, now our neighbor, ”says Enrique Servan. For over two years, he had set up more than 20 seats in front of his restaurant on Pfalzburger Strasse near Ludwigkirchplatz, and nobody seemed to care. But now he has received a condition from the Wilmersdorf Regulatory Authority that he can only set up eight seats there, or four tables.

“Last week, two employees suddenly stood in front of my store and wanted to measure the distance between the tables from the bottom lane to the sidewalk,” says Enrique Servan. They then explained to me that I was not allowed to put tables there anymore and that I had to take them off otherwise I would have to pay a fine.

Up until the pandemic, the Peruvian eatery Serrano did well

This decision has significant consequences for the family business. “During the pandemic, as with all catering establishments, we experienced a sharp drop in sales during closing hours. Now the guests are staying away again because they can’t sit outside with us, ”says Enrique Servan.

Most Berliners not only want to eat outside when the weather is fine, but also fear indoor Covid-19 contamination. The father of two is very worried about the future of the family. When he came to Berlin with his sister from Peru in 1989, he was full of hope that he would have a good future here. Your restaurant always did well financially until the pandemic. Many celebrities have already enjoyed South American cuisine with them. “Mikhail Gorbachev, Daniel Barenboim and Guido Maria Kretschmer were also with us,” says sister Virginia Servan proudly.

From summer 2020, simplifications for innkeepers outside have been introduced in most districts. It is possible to extend the areas used so far. However, there must be enough space for pedestrians.

Unlike the previous ones, when calculating these safety distances, the sidewalk lane and the paved street edge lane are taken into account. This gives the innkeeper the option to move his outside terrace a little further to the sidewalk. This year, restaurateurs do not have to pay any money for a special use in public space, i.e. setting tables and benches in front of a restaurant.

The Wilmersdorf Regulatory Authority considers the complaint justified

The Servan family also benefited from this arrangement since last summer. But now a resident complained about it and called the law enforcement office. The district office of Wilmersdorf has also confirmed this by the Berliner Zeitung. – The public order office operated on the basis of a well-founded complaint of residents – explains an employee of the Department of Order, Environment, Roads and Greenery.

From the point of view of public order, the complaint is justified: During a general inspection of the security service it was found that the area approved according to the 2015 Special Use Concept has been significantly exceeded, also taking into account the simplifications in force until the end of 2022. Moreover, the excessive use of outdoor areas is usually associated with increased noise levels. The pavement is only 3.90 meters wide in the Pfalzburger Straße area. Due to local conditions, it is not possible to use a bottom lath.

Such conflicts are not uncommon in a large city like Berlin, says Thomas Lengfelder, CEO of a hotel and restaurant association. In this case, he advises to talk to each other: “The restaurateur and the neighbors should communicate with each other and do what is possible instead of working against each other.”

Enrique Servan is disappointed. She says, “I don’t even know which neighbor it is. I don’t understand why they didn’t address us directly instead of complaining behind our backs. ”

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