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Maothai Story

The STORY of MAOTHAI goes back to 1993 when N.FRANKENSTEIN and J. HAFEMANN, Asian department graduates of Berlin's Humboldt University, opened the first MAOTHAI restaurant in the upcoming Prenzlauer Berg district of East-Berlin intending to bring Thai cuisine as authentic as possible into the heart of the German capital.

Thai cooks from Northeastern Thailand and direct import of fresh Thai vegetable and herbs from Thailand provided for the best Thai cooking seen in Berlin. A minimalist interior and the white walls of the restaurant became landmark amongst grey and rotten facades around and its quality food made it quite popular. In 1995 and 1996 alone, more than 20,000 guests, many of them from abroad, signed lists and supported the owner in his fight to renovate the residence permits of his Thai staff, asking German authorities to grant necessary working permits and establish rules to allow culturally authentic quality cooks to come in to Germany.

In the following years, Mr. FRANKENSTEIN created a group of small satellite restaurants in the city center of Berlin-Mitte, 1995 the KAMALA in Oranienburger Street opposite the Berlin's historic synagogue, and the Thai noodle house LITTLE DRAGON near Berlin's RED CITY HALL. 1996 TUANS HUT opened 100 meters away from Alexanderplatz & Berlin TV tower, pioneering a convincing combination of excellent Thai & Sushi that soon became a model restaurant for many others to follow.

In spring 1997, a sister restaurant, MAOTHAI AM FASANENPLATZ, opened in the heart of the Western part of Berlin, in a building where in the 1930ies Heinrich Mann lived and Zara Leander operated a pension for artists. In the 1970ies, the place was well known in the Western part of the city as Crystal Cafe. This MAOTHAI, again, did soon attract a number of prominent customers, the venue was reborn and established itself as social meeting point.

ISSAN opened its doors Unter den Linden 78 in September 1999, in direct vicinity of BRANDENBURGER GATE, opposite ADLON hotel. It offered a splendid combination of Thai & Sushi dishes. A pre-opening was done with British & US embassy staff, and 14 ambassadors from all ASEAN member states honored the official opening of the first & only Thai restaurant established at this most prominent place in German history at invitation of the Thai ambassador, HE Kasit PIROMIYA.

It became darling of German restaurant critic Wolfram SIEBECK and was as well approved by Kurt WACHTVEIL, distinct Director of Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. Its sushi quality saw it ranked among Berlin's premier Japanese restaurants. ISSAN boosted the positive image of Thailand and helped to establish Thai cooking as one of the leading international cuisines in Germany. In 2002, the MAOTHAI staff joined the ADLON crew to provide dinner for the all ASEAN states meeting at ADLON hotel celebrating a performance of South-East Asian Ramayama epos.

MAOTHAI´s story is not complete without mentioning the helping hands of the many that worked it out together.

Above all, East Berlin bricklayer Alwin OLBRICHT who had largely passed his 60th when he undertook and orchestrated the comprehensive construction task in MAOTHAI Prenzlauer Berg near Kollwitzplatz, core district of East Berlin, as well as Jan und Anne HOFMANN, two gifted young Berlin arquitects who translated the intentions of the two founders into a timeless and elegant restaurant and, further on, shaped the arquitectural work and design of all MAOTHAI group restaurants, particularly that of ISSAN Am Brandenburger Tor (2000 - 2003) and of MAOTHAI PALMA in 2003 were Werner and Elke HOFMANN helped to bring MAOTHAI into life in Spain.

Yoshio Tsuji & Fumiko, Sachie M., Volker S., Doro Otr., Dr. Andreas Schn., Christoph N., Achim Z., Sabine G., Otgo P., Anthony J. Z. (for his part in Palma), Arno Speckert and Dick Darnoc must be mentioned for their uncompromising help, in the first place. MAOTHAI won support of many of its distinguished guests through all walks of political life, outspokenly or decently, as in 1995 when Berlin House of Representatives took up the case of the opening of KAMALA restaurant opposite Berlin's synagogue, or of the helping hand of Monika G. in 1999, when MAOTHAI was at risk getting cannibalized by total reconstruction of its main building in Wörther Str. 30. And last but not least, it was the steady and continuous backing the media gave to the cause of MAOTHAI in its endeavor to bless post wall Berlin with quality Thai cuisine that helped to steer Maothai group through it's first decade, to mention here just Tagesspiegel, BZ, Morgenpost, Frankfurter, among others, as well as numerous TV and radio stations.

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