OLD-FASHIONED CONNECTIONS WITH A THOROUGHLY MODERN APPROACH: DION UND GEFOLGE
In the throes of neighborhood change and flux from old to new, André Ebeling and Bärbel Schütz introduce new food ideas to the old concept of a neighborhood store with Dion und Gefolge. Stroll along the Landwerkanal right at about the intersection of Ohlauerstrasse and Paul Lind Ufer on the Kreuzberg side, and Maybachufer, Friedelstrasse and Bürknerstrasse on the Neukölln side (or simply the area known as Kreuzkölln), look up and there is a shop with a bright pinky-red neon sign. Dion und Gefolge, a wine and specialty food shop, brightens this lively street corner of Berlin.
When agri-business and chain groceries offered the optimum in shopping convenience, small neighborhood shops slowly disappeared. Why go to the Tante Emma Laden (Mom and Pop Shop) when everything could be purchased in one place? In the process the personal touch evaporated. André and Bärbel have brought that touch back with a new form of the Tante Emma Laden by working with small producers, vendors and distributors. To a Brooklynite, this might not be new news, but in Berlin the seeds of food change are in the air, and it is unfolding with the advent of stores like Dion und Gefolge. As Bärbel stated, they know the people who made the products from bacon jam to lemon curd, chocolate covered marshmallows to fine wines, spirits and craft ales to locally brewed beers. Their mission is to be a shop that is connected to the neighborhood and brings foods that are not found on the grocery chain store shelves. Each food product has a story attached to it, many have a tie to a social cause, and that connection is shared with the customers so that the purchase and consumption is about the experience, not just the jar or bottle that they have carried home.
Giving it a go
In former lives Bärbel created stage scenery and André was in the event business working with lighting and sound, jobs that required a bit of travel. The dream of feeling connected to a neighborhood became fulfilled when the shop at Bürkenerstrasse 31-32 came available. In August of 2017, the doors opened, and curious local residents to passersby began to stop in. Now they claim a steady clientele of regulars who enjoy the opportunity to have new food experiences with items that they might never have thought to try, to the accidental stumbling upon of a tourist.
When the heavy glass door opens in, the bustling corner is left behind. One senses the individuality of the products and the comfort in that they have been created by artisanal producers. The décor is contemporary and simultaneously cozy. The floor is cement with embedded colorful fragments of glass, and the walls white with deep splotches of Burgundy, goldenrod yellows, and deep greens that drip towards the floor. Wooden shelves, free-standing and built in, line the walls with colorful products awaiting to be chosen. The main room hosts a sitting area and the specialty foods, with dry goods towered to about shoulder height on wooden and metal displays and a cooler filled with delectable cheeses and charcuterie. The kasse (checkout) is situated on an old, dark-wooden counter that rests on a glass-fronted cabinet. Beer caps are scattered on the bottom, and it will fill up in the years to come. To the back of the shop one finds the beer room filled with coolers and thick wooden shelves with beers and different shaped glassware (beer requires specialty glassware).
As the business becomes more well-known and the customers greater in number, they have hired some help for the front of the shop. In the meantime they continue to concentrate on establishing new food connections, seeking out interesting beers, wines and spirits, and all the while ensuring the personal touch to every experience. They are very hands on, and more often than not, one of them is in the store as well. André manages most of the libations and Bärbel the foods, but they and the staff are well-versed about every product in the store. A variety of liquors and wines are available for tasting on a daily basis, and there are weekly and monthly events for sampling wines, spirits and foods check FB and sign up for the newsletter on the Dion und Gefolge website for tasing and event listings.
Artisanal is key
They started with 12 wines and the expansion is rotational with the varieties, a couple of the most interesting coming from Serbia and Slovenia. Lining the hanging and stacked shelves are beautifully packaged tea from the Berlin Tea Company, Das Berliner Frustück Müsli that looks like the perfect way to start a day, and Pefferhaus’ Suicide Sauces Stinger which will surely spice up a plain avocado sandwich. The Bacon Jam from Cookomania, also located in Berlin, really was eye-catching. It brought back the childhood memory of bacon fat and drippings that were stored in a jar in the kitchen to be smeared on bread or for cooking onions for a soup. Sweet-tooth satisfaction, displayed throughout the store, comes from, brightly wrapped Barú Chocolate from Belgium, Vivani Chocolate from Herford, Germany and Berlin handmade Naschpirat fruit gummy candies.
A must on the food map of Berlin
Wandering around the area, passing through, renting an apartment nearby, or even if on the other side of the city, Dion und Gefolge is worth a trip across the Hobrechtbrüke just for the sheer experience of how an old concept seems so new.
Dion und Gefolge
Tel: 030 47051030
Tue -Thu : 12:00-20:00
Fr & Sat : 12:00-22:00