One of the best kiosk places, so called “Wasserhäuschen” (Water Houses) in town. And there is so much more then just selling drinks and essentials. A place to chill, a small oasis with lots of love and relaxation. Here you can hang out and great creative things happen. A live concert occurs spontaneously, people have fun and meet. Here we have an interview with Felix Wegener from the Gudes team from a live broadcast at the fabulous local station Radio X. The podcast is in German but in the following there is as well the written conversation translated into English.
We already said a few things in the show about the „Wasserhäuschen“ (=water houses, kiosk) in general and just talked about the Wasserhäuschen culture here in Frankfurt. And now we have an interview with you Felix from the „Gudes“ at Mathias-Beltz-Platz 1, which is located in the Nordend also nearby the university of applied sciences. There you have this beautiful little place with the little house and there is also a lot going on around this space. Throughout the years it was and it still is is a meeting place where a lot more happens than just selling the products. So there is also music, culture, hip-hop, singer-songwriter, graffiti on your walls.
Yes, both at the water house and next to it at the larger electricity box. Artists from Frankfurt have been creative and plainted there. Both at our house, so the bigger one, that was a friend named Lilu. She painted the tentacles. That was three years ago, to make the whole thing a bit more colourful and to adapt to the atmosphere.
Tell me a little bit about the Gudes. Since when has it been around and since when have you been running the place?
So the Gudes birthday is on the 16th of November. On 16th November in 2013 we opened, that was the very first day. On the 15th November we are already in and have implemented the new interpretation with the café, so that you can sit there and also stay on site at the Wasserhäuschen. Then we did the renovation work and as I said, the 16th November was the first day and since then we are opened almost every day.
What was in there before? Was that an old Wasserhäuschen, too then?
So this was still a classic old fashioned Wasserhäuschen from back in the days. There were different owners, but it always was more of a kiosk or drinking hall type of thing. It’s also written on a sighn over the top, so it’s a drinking establishment. That’s not at all condemnable. But when we went in there, we thought we could make it a bit more colourful. A little more welcome for everyone, so that everyone feels comfortable and everyone finds a place.
I remember always when I went there, the whole place was mostly just full of people. People were playing guitar or playing frisbee in the afternoon over did something creative. So it has become a special chill place where people meet.
That’s nice what you say and that’s important too, even though it’s completely on the big main road. But people don’t let that affect them and they also help to shape the place and to make it nice. We had concerts there and live music, also we have one of those boules tents or something for kids to play if you want to do some activity on the square. And of course people bring something themselves. It’s nice to have that created with people like that. A place where you can just feel good.
The newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau chooses since some time annually the Wasserhäuschen of the year. You also took first place once with the Gudes and second place a few more times.
That was the year before last, I’m not quite sure, but when the whole series started, the one with the best water house in Frankfurt, we were relatively in the first two or three years, we were once in first place. And then in other parts of the city, fortunately, places like that popped up and people said, hey, you can design it a little bit so that the people who live there also have a place outside. And yes, from the looks of it, we have arrived well in the North End and are getting along with the people. It just works that way too.
I think these places are important for the whole neighborhood and the whole area. Grandpa picks up his newspaper there, and you also in your sortment products like milk and all the other groceries there. The people come there to talk a bit, it’s like an important reference point in the hood.
Yes, absolutely. We also had before when the whole pandemic was there, we had crepes day every Wednesday too. There we had fresh crepes prepared every day. Or for a while we had sandwiches or sausages from the butcher across the street, who is now sadly gone. Now in the current times we have soups packed in freezer bags and vacuum packed or frozen and people can take them home. And what we still have now, so what you still know from the old days, so Aunt Emma’s grocery store. We called it Uncle Felix’s grocery store. There we have some standard things like pasta, cream or milk, baking powder, tomato paste or tomato sauce. So a few staples for when you need to make a quick getaway. And what we’ve also tried, or where we’re still at, is a delivery service. We created it, where you can order things from us on certain days and at certain times, so to speak, and then I deliver them personally.
So in the whole of Frankfurt or just in the neighborhood?
Not all of Frankfurt. It’s just a matter of trying to get through the pandemic, and I’m the only one bringing the supplies for now, and time is limited. But you can find new information on our social media channels. There we have also a map and you can have a look if you like. There’s information on our website as well, but we’re much more active on the social media channels at Facebook and Instagram. The website is a bit outdated, we have to adapt it, but that’s what we’re about to do at the moment, now that there is more time to do it. So check out Gudes FFM, you are welcome to click around and look around.
As soon as something goes on, you can get the latest news there.
That’s right So, as I said, these are the channels we’re active on. And when the whole lockdown thing is over, then there is of course also a small party on the square. Hopefully it can be on some warm summer days. That has always been pretty good actually.
Sure, in winter it may not be so noticeable, but in summer, you go outside and you need somewhere to go.
Yeah, so all the pubs, all the bars, all the restaurants, anywhere else you where you can meet, it’s all closed. We are really lucky that we were allowed to stay open and there is as well the big square next to us. Although we still have to say, so at the Wasserhäuschen we sell mostly beer, but on the square directly is a prohibition of drinking alcohol. But, yeah, people need to go somewher and it’s best to meet outside.
But you have a lot of space, that’s big there and it is possible to keep distance.
Yes, so you can also a tea or coffee if you want or hot drinks. We also have a few local products that come from Frankfurt and the region. For example drinks from 21 Gramm. They make those passion fruit and raspberry spritzers and they’re also friends of mine. So you just make sure that you somehow work together and support each other during those times. This is very important.
Do you know as well the association Line 11 for the preservation of Frankfurt’s Wasserhäuschen?
Yes, of course. Especially the early days when the guys started the whole thing and were very active. They really put their heart and soul into it. So the website where they also have the Wasserhäuschen map. I also had a lot more contact with them in the beginning, but yes, we know each other. They also have a printed map where you can see the city of Frankfurt in map format and all the Wasserhäuschen are marked there. That’s quite something they’re doing and they made it very nice.
They were also guests here at the radio some time ago, which was also a very intersting show, in which they told the whole story about their project and how it started. They told about a birthday when they had the plan to ride with the tram line 11 like a tour and just always to go off wherever there is a Wasserhäuschen. And for the whole group it was really enjoying and they talked to the owners and did interviews and now there’s a whole website with articles, a map and also videos. So everything around and about the Frankfurt Wasserhäuschen.
Yes, definitely. You can see that there’s a lot of heart and passion and a lot of work in it. It’s not just a page made like that, but it’s very nicely designed.
Questions about planning and so on, that’s useless right now. You don’t know when and how it will be possible soon to do something again.
That’s the big problem, exactly. But as I said, once this is over, we’re going to do all our other things and activities again. And when it is towards winter, then there will be a Christmas market again and in November we have our birthday. We then always expand that a little bit with food and drinks. Normal business is then closed and it is a n event where we can just enjoy a nice time together. Independently from people who want to buy something and that we have to work. But let’s see, when it’s time again. So hold on, then we’ll do it. Now the sunny days have begun and it is getting warmer again. So yes, everyone is always welcome.
Gudes – Frankfurter Wasserhäuschen
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