Jim Block in Berlin: Burgers and Bikini’s
Today, I was invited to the press conference of Jim Block im Bikini in the West of Berlin. Being a true hamburger connoisseur, I decided to dedicate a real special to celebrate the arrival of the finest burger flipper of Germany. Part 1 of 3 starts with a short interview with Ms. Kristine Putzke, chief of the Jim Block chain.
The restaurant, located right next to the recently reopened Bikini Haus near Zoologischer Garten, has made its debut in the German capital, but is certainly not a novice on the hamburger market. Its first branch was opened in 1973 in.. where else.. the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. Thriving force behind Jim Block is the Block Group, famous for their Block House steak restaurants. Six years later, the city was host to three Jim Block burger restaurants, and it wasn’t until 2006 that Eugen Block decided to expand its quality fast food chain. The first restaurant outside of Hamburg was opened in Hannover in 2012. The Block Group are careful investors: just like with their meat, they prefer quality over quantity. It took them two years to make the big step to Berlin. I do think this shows that a sustained growth will provide you with the right foundation for future success.
I had the privilege to sit down with Ms. Putzke for quite a while: she is quite passionate about the Jim Block concept and obviously knows what she’s talking about – from baking burgers to designing a business concept.
OutBerlin: The successful Block Houses have hamburgers on their menu as well – what made the Block Group decide to erect a separate chain of hamburger restaurants?
Kristine Putzke: While we already gained a lot of know-how on the preperation of meat, thanks to our private butcher of South-American beef, we felt that there was an audience out there that would appreciate a quick meal that would be on par with our Block House quality. This made us belief that our formula would benefit from a separate chain of hamburger restaurants: one that would take fast food to a higher level, so that our visitors would never have to compromise on the quality of their meal.
OB: How will Jim Block distinguish itself from famous Berlin competitors like Burgermeister in Kreuzberg, The Bird in Prenzlauer Berg and Burgeramt in Friedrichshain?
KP: What really makes the difference is our decades of experience when it comes to meat preparation: we have a strong position on the market of steak restaurants throughout Germany, so the art of grilling a filet mignon or a hamburger comes natural to us. We are also one of the few who will offer you fresh salads to accompany our burgers.
OB: What made you decide to open the first Jim Block branch in West Berlin? You could have opted for the über-commercial Alexanderplatz.
KP: We could have done that, we could have chosen for Potsdamer Platz – but we decided to start at a location that is being rediscovered by both locals and internationals. West is booming: exclusive shops, KaDeWe, Kurfürstendamm, the reopened Bikini-Haus.. We feel at home here. Starting our Berliner journey in West felt like the right thing to do.
OB: Are you not afraid that Jim Block will compete with its own brother, the Block House, right above this branch?
KP: (Laughs) No, we believe that the two will actually reinforce each other: those who want take some time out to enjoy a high quality steak and a glass of wine, will visit the Block House. Guests who are in more of a hurry or on a tight budget, will gladly go to Jim Block, where they will be served a good hamburger without spending more time or money than they want to.
OB: Can we expect a location in East Berlin anytime soon?
KP: Oh yes: we are embarking on a real expansion tour in the capital. By the end of 2020, we hope to have opened ten Jim Block restaurants. The popular bezirke (districts) are definitely on our list.
OB: If you had to give one golden tip to all our hamburger chefs at home, what would that be?
KP: (Laughs) To come to one of our restaurants, of course: nothing beats the real thing! But for those who want to get as close to the original as possible, we recommend the following:
- Grill on a smooth surface: no ridges!
- Use the highest temperature in the beginning: you want the meat to sear right from the start, so that you preserve the juices.
- Use our Block House pepper: available at quite a lot of supermarkets, or in our restaurants.
Thank you, Ms. Putzke!
Jim Block im Bikini
Budapester Straße 38-50 (U+S-Bahn Zoologischer Garten)
Open daily from 11:00 – 23:00