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New Berlin restaurant Panama takes cues from a German children’s book

A Berlin restaurant inspired by a children’s tale has opened its doors in a former factory building in Potsdamer Strasse.

Panama is the latest venture from hospitality group Contemporary Food Lab (CFL), whose in-house designers conceived the space in collaboration with interior architects Nora Witzigmann and Karo Butzert.

The restaurant takes cues from the popular German children’s book, Oh, wie schön is Panama (‘The trip to Panama’), by Janosch, which tells the story of a bear and tiger’s journey to find a paradise called Panama – only to discover it in the place they first started.

Panama restaurant, Berlin
Photography: Philipp Langenheim

‘I had an idea to do this tropical place. I read the book to my daughter and thought it was perfect,’ says CFL founder Ludwig Cramer-Klett. ‘It’s exotic in its name, but at the same time it’s one of the most famous German children’s books.’

The restaurant takes over a two-storey space at the Neue West development – a complex of six buildings dating back to the 19th century – recently renovated by AHM Architekten. It also has an outdoor area featuring a coach house as further dining space.

Panama restaurant, Berlin
Photography: Philipp Langenheim

CFL mixed locally sourced materials, including German ash wood and glass tiling, with foreign imports such as terrazzo. It also custom-designed all the furniture, bar a few vintage pieces like a green sofa at the restaurant entrance. In tune with the Panama theme, tropical plants are scattered throughout the space.

‘The Panama story sums up everything we want to do,’ says CFL founder Cramer-Klett. ‘It’s about going on a journey, expanding your mind, realising the beauty of the world we live in. The aesthetic of the restaurant should make you feel like you’re in an exotic, tropical place, but at the same time in reality.’

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