Here's the scene: dark grey stone floors, massive wooden tables, retro rotating chairs, a long bar with a glass case filled with sandwiches and cakes, and, on the back wall, a huge blackboard listing the menu. Aunt Benny is certainly stylish.
Proprietor Kyla Boyle has an eye for detail. After all, the Canadian-born owner is a trained interior designer and in her home city of Toronto, she worked in design rather than gastronomy. It was there that she met Jeremy P. Caulfield, an internationally renowned DJ who was drawn to Berlin for its vibrant electronic music scene. So, in 2003, the pair relocated. Jeremy P. Caulfield spun tracks at clubs such as Watergate, Bar 25, and Weekend, while Kyla Boyle worked as an interior designer. "Berlin was a dream. We didn't have any bureaucratic issues and rent was cheap," recalls Kyla Boyle.
All the same, she was having trouble making ends meet with her work as an interior designer, so she opened her first café in Kreuzberg. That first project folded, but she wasn't ready to give up just yet. So in 2008, she opened up Aunt Benny on Traveplatz in Friedrichshain, which was still a relatively quiet quarter at the time. Jeremy P. Caulfield joined the business in 2013, after deciding to take a step back from the music scene. Since then, the couple have run the business together.
The café offers up typical North American specialties such as poached eggs with avocado and maple bacon, sandwiches with grilled cheese, ham, and apple chutney, salads with carrot and burrata, vegan chili, quiche, toasted bagels with cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, carrot-ginger cake, and, of course, coffee in all its many wonderful forms.
The café's concept is tailored to the neighborhood. "We have so many regulars who are in here almost every day," explains Jeremy P. Caulfield. The ambiance is comfortable and relaxed. Many of the regular customers come in after doing their shopping to grab a coffee or have a quick bite to eat. Some read the paper while others work. Breakfast, lunch, and afternoon coffee and cake make up their core business, so they normally close at around 5pm or 6pm at the weekend. "We've been here for ten years, and I think people enjoy that consistency," says Kyla Boyle. The café is a true Canadian gem in the district.
Author: Jacek Slaski