written by: Bastian Salmen
Charly takes over "The Dude" Berlin-Mitte
It’s early morning, Thursday the 15th of July, 2021 and members of the Charly Team are embarking trains from all over Europe heading to the German capital, Berlin. The plan, to finalise the last elements of the deal with the boutique hotel, “The Dude” and start renovations, all while having a fun team-building weekend. The luxury of travelling Deutsche Bahn means we have WiFi for the majority of the trip so emails are sent, conference calls are had and Blog articles are written.
Slowly but surely everyone arrived in Berlin in front of what will soon be the very first Charly location. For some of us, it is our first time meeting in person. What better way to get to know one another than over a coffee and some lunch at the magnificent Yada Yada Breakfast club, right next door. Once everyone is recharged it’s time to get to business. While the last guests are checking out, the paperwork is finalised and Charly officially owns its first location.
The first moments are joyous and filled with excitement but quickly reality sets in and the mammoth task of revitalizing the old hotel comes crashing down. Almost as soon as the ink is dry the work begins, beds are dismantled, furniture is taken downstairs and electronics are unscrewed from their mounts on the wall. What seemed like a giant task seems even larger once the rooms stand bare end and expose the years of wear and tear.
As the sun starts to sink lower in the sky on a hot and humid Berlin Thursday, the realisation sets in that everyone has only had one meal for the day and what seems like an endless supply of coffee. The majority of the beds are dismantled, all the televisions are off the wall, so time to call it a day. On one side of the new Charly location, you have the Yada Yada Breakfast Club, an amazing breakfast, brunch & lunch location with outdoor seating, great service and snacks to cater to every type of visitor. On the other side of you have “The Brooklyn”. One of the top Steakhouses in all of Berlin. They have a mammoth selection of the finest steak and the crew really knows what they are talking about. Not only are the meals spectacular, but their suggested wine pairing also hit the mark. Of course, as there was definitely a reason to celebrate, the team finished their meals, and enjoyed another refreshing beverage at “The Brooklyn”, then headed a few hundred meters down the road to “The Republik” beer garden. Here you really feel the flair that sets Berlin apart from all the other major cities in Germany. The openness of the people, the diversity of the culture, and the affordability of the drinks. “The Republik” is a typical beer garden, but with Berlin flair, there is an old double-decker bus parked on the lawn when the weather doesn’t cooperate, there is a revolving assortment of street food on offer, and Mate & Vodka is served just like any other bar in the city.
The music is good, and the guests are friendly with a nice mix of locals, and travellers. The fact it is outdoor, yet covered with tents and marquees means it is also extremely relaxed in terms of covid. There is no negative test required, social distancing rules can be kept, and there is plenty of fresh air. After a few hours, the team headed back to the hotel for a nightcap, then bed. A long day finished, and comfortable, air-conditioned rooms welcomed the weary.
After two full days of essentially moving out, The Dude is just a shadow of its former self. The rooms are near empty and ready for paint, new furnishings, and biggest of all, kitchens. After the hard work, and the near-empty hotel at our disposal it seems only fitting to have a little closing down party for "the Dude". As the friends come in and the beer gets cooled in the hundreds of tiny fridges, the music gets louder, and for the first time in over a year, it seems that the nightmare that was 2020 with the never-ending lockdowns seems to vanish, if only for a few hours.
After a late-night, everyone awoke to a sunny weekend in Berlin. After another comfortable breakfast at the Yada Yada, some of the team finished clearing the rooms ready for renovation, some started heading to the train station to make their way home, and others explored the area. Those that remained enjoyed the empty hotel, the interesting surroundings and each other's company. What followed was a weekend celebrating birthdays, visiting friends and family and trying to sell the outdated furniture from the now almost empty hotel. Eventually, Sunday rolled around and the last of the crew made their way back to their respective homes.
All in all, a successful, fun-filled, busy, productive & adventurous