Drunks, noise and mess: Berlin mayor attacks the Spätis

Drunks, noise and mess: Berlin mayor attacks the Spätis

People in Berlin love their Spätis (Spätkauf - a kind of late-night convenience store that sells local German beer, sweets and toilet roll). But to some Berliners, they are loud, smelly, disruptive and fast becoming a nuisance. And now Mitte’s district mayor, Stephan von Dassel, has pledged to do something about it.

“Explosion of Spätis” in Berlin

We’ve all been there - a quick beer outside your local Späti is the perfect way to kick off a good evening on the town. Indeed, many are so popular that they have become bars in their own right, with space for up to 30 people to enjoy their 1-euro beers on makeshift tables and benches set up directly on the pavement.

This is especially true in the area around Rosenthaler Platz, where there has been an “unhealthy explosion” of Spätis, according to Andreas Becker, the manager of the local Circus Hotel. There are now more than 13 Spätis around the square, plying night-time revellers with cheap alcohol.

Von Dassel: “Spätis must follow the rules”

In so doing, however, they have attracted the wrath of mayor von Dassel over their blatant disregard for the rules: despite legislation prohibiting it, most Spätis depend entirely on the sale of alcohol to stay in business; many open on Sundays and public holidays (also against the rules); and most also flout German legislation on toilets and have no facilities for guests when nature calls.

While you might argue that a tiny bit of rule-bending never hurt anyone, von Dassel views it as something entirely more insidious: a total disregard of laws that is quickly getting out of control. “The idea of Berlin as a city of freedom is overused,” he argues. His comments have triggered a debate on the extent to which the Berlin administration can easily accept deliberate rule violations.

Spätis a nuisance to Berlin’s residents

After all, this is not just about tiny transgressions of nonsensical laws: as much as the Spätis are good for anyone looking for a cheap bit of fun, for local residents all those people sitting outside, drinking and talking late into the night, are causing a bit of a problem. The late-night merriment makes a lot of noise - and the lack of toilets makes a lot of mess.

Responding to the concerns of residents is of the highest importance to von Dassel: he is already looking into alcohol-free zones, similar to those already in use in some German cities in Baden-Württemberg, and is looking into increasing staff working hours at the Public Order Office, so that there are enough people on hand to respond to resident complaints.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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