Once upon a time …

Beginnings often remain vague. A certain Porath is said to have started serving beer at Kastanienallee 7 in 1837. But documents show that the Kalbo family purchased the establishment in 1852 and started developing it. This is when it evolved from a beer garden and outdoor café into a place of all-round enjoyment and leisure.

Initially located on the sandy edge of Berlin, the city soon swallowed the »café chantant«. Soubrettes could be seen on stage, and Mr. Kalbo started calling himself a »cafétier«. Prater quickly developed.

Berlin’s Prater only makes a brief appearance in police records from the period. Paul Kalbo is referred to as a »theatre promoter«. In 1867 he applied for a license to put on various forms of entertainment – which was only approved after two years of close inspection.

White beer bottles
from 1860 bearing the Kalbo name – found
during excavations at Prater in 1996

Meanwhile the Pfefferberg brewery took over the business, but the Kalbos remained in charge of Prater. They were able to use the financial muscle of the brewery to build a performance venue.

Approaching the turn of the century competition in the area became stiffer. Statistically there were four bars for every hundred families. This drinking hole density was unique in Germany at the time.

In 1987 Thilo Zantke gave an insight into why Prater survived in his in-depth history of the venue. It managed to be a, »public house, destination for day trippers, variety, people’s theatre, ballroom, garden and place for political meetings.«

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