Like a really good juicy secret, Między Nami is hidden away from those who need not be in the know. You will not find a Kardashian wannabee within its walls or sitting in one of their two beautiful gardens, one a serene space in the quiet courtyard and one on the busy sidewalk in front of the Cafe; perfect for people watching and welcoming acquaintances as they arrive.
Started in 1994 by Ewa Moisan and Markus Redamacher. A Funky Fabulous Cafe catering to the young hip creatives of Warsaw. A city which has managed to hold on to its bohemian vibe through a world war and subsequent doldrums of Soviet communism. Yet despite the daily listlessness of the older population, youthful creativity always boiled just underneath the surface waiting for its opportunity to explode. Once the Soviet curtain came down, small privately owned shops and restaurants started popping up in the restored prewar gray-stones all over the city. One momentous thing that the hard times created was a strong sense of community. Cafes were always pivotal meeting places for groups of like minded individuals, where they could spend hours over a hot cup of tea discussing in hushed tones forbidden subjects such as politics, art, literature, and religion. These people were teeming with ideas forbidden from ever seeing the light of day. Until one day in the early 1990s things started to change. All of a sudden permission was granted to open privately owned businesses and things began taking shape. Między Nami was one of the first such meeting places to offer the old sense of community to the newly liberated youth bursting with business ideas in a city filled with opportunity. It was a place where artists, play-writes, photographers and models would meet for a drink or a meal and to discuss their viewpoints and brash projects. Since those first days much has reformed in Warsaw. Fast food joint like Pizza Hut occupy a lot of the old store fronts, once empty of merchandise – now oozing with a western sense of speed, accessibility and convenience. Mass produced clothing and knickknacks sold at commonplace retailers you can find in any sizable city such as IKEA and H&M. The people however didn’t change all that much. The need to spend time with like minded peers is biological and Między Nami is still the natural hub for that. It’s a place where you can grab breakfast, meet for lunch, a late evening supper or just a drink or two. Their delicious cappuccinos are served in small bowls not coffee cups, the staff is as friendly as can be, you can’t help but become good friends with them if you spend any time there. The food is a mix of home cooked Polish fare with an eclectic spin and lots of choices for healthy eaters and vegetarians always have a multitude of choices on the menu. The interior is a simple mix of informal, industrial and filled with natural light coming through the floor to ceiling windows. You can sit by the large street side storefront window or the quieter loft area. In the corner a large glassed wall that shows off the quaint little shop next door simply called “Sklep” which means Store. “Where are you going?” one might ask “To the Store”, simple as that.
The Między Nami is probably best known and loved for their fabulous invite only special events, which are meticulously planned by the staff. The annual birthday bash is attended by their most loyal followers who start pleading and conjuring to be added to the coveted invite list months in advance. The smaller events such as art showings, DJed dance nights, corporate and artist events take place in the cafe. The larger affairs such as the famed annual birthday party take place in old funky haunts all over Warsaw. One of the more popular are “Sofia” the oldest strip club in Warsaw which was the place for Party members and foreign dignitaries to meet and relax during the old days of communism. The place still has that old proletariat aura and a funky late 70s /early 80’s vibe which is now considered retrospectively kitschy. Another great space that the annual event occupies is an old shut down, emptied out factory. With its spacious, industrial rooms transformed into an elegantly chick dining room with long communal tables draped in white linens, white flower centerpieces and lit only by copious candles, ala Truman Capote’s Black and White ball which took place at the Plaza Hotel.
Sklep is an addition to the Między Nami brand. A small shop opened in 2013 by Beata Blaibel, who moved to Warsaw from Chicago in 1996 and has worked with Ewa and Markus ever since. Sklep specialized in fresh organic, sustainable foods, delivered daily from the local farms surrounding Central Warsaw . They also sell home made jams, honeys and yogurts, breads, chocolates and other treats. You can visit every few days and find something new and different. There are also beautiful one of a kind ceramics, vintage linens, and other beautiful arts and crafts you can find all within this tiny little shops walls.
When you are done eating drinking and shopping you can climb the stairs to the 3rd floor and turn in for the evening in one of three fabulous rooms occupying the Między Nami Bed and Breakfast in operation since 2010. Each room is an eclectic mix of Retro and Mid Century Modern with pops of bright colors, and the bathrooms are absolutely fabulous. Once you have showered, rested and wake up a bit peckish you can call downstairs to have breakfast brought up to your room from the cafe or saunter down to enjoy it in the cafe . Can life get any better you ask?
Their other projects include mixed Cd’s, cook books and travel guides. Recently they launched a travel app which will be available for purchase soon.
I spoke with Markus Rademacher about what it was like to start and run the Między Nami Brand. Here is Markus in his own words:
- How and where did you grow up? Together with 3! sisters in Hannover, Germany
- Where did the name Między Nami come from? A friends idea – while drinking vodka 😉
- What ignited the spark in you to start a new business? How did the idea for your business come about? We worked since years in bars and clubs, so we knew how it works and we got the opportunity for a nice location in Poland.
- What was the first step you took to start a business? Driving to Poland and renovating the place.
- What gave you the confidence to go on your own? I wasn’t alone, but anyway I gave it a try. I somehow of course had always the opportunity to go back home, but never used it.
- What previous experience led you to opening your own business? Learning by doing – or better: work in the same business.
- Did running a business and working for yourself come naturally or did you just jump in and then learn as you went along? I worked as a manager in bars and clubs, so I knew how it works. For the paperwork I had some help
- What were some of the growing pains or lessons you learned from mistakes and failures you have had in the beginning? Trying to have a good relationship to the stuff. It’s very, very important, but even if you are a friend ‘outside’ work, they always must know, that I’m at work are the boss. Not easy for everybody!
- How important have good employees been to your success? Very!
- What do you think makes you a success in your own eyes? When the clients like it.
- What is your favorite thing about working for yourself? Working for myself.
- What is the hardest thing about working for yourself? 24/7 on duty
- What motivates you? It’s my business, so I always care
- How do you generate new ideas? Listening, reading, talking with others.
- How far are you willing to go to succeed? When I’m going to be an asshole, then it’s time to stop.
- What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear? That our clients don’t like what we do and I don’t understand or like what they want.
- To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business? You must love what you are doing, respect to the stuff, listening to the people/clients
- What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur? 6 weeks holidays are impossible.
- Do you have any future projects you are working on that you would like to talk about? Buying an island, laying on the beach and playing with coconuts! 😉
Beata and Ewa in the store "Sklep".
As you see my Funky Fabulous friends. The recipe for a great welcoming place is one part ingenious idea, three parts experience, five parts guts – add Vodka to taste and Voilà you have yourself an amazing Funky Fabulous life. And hey – coconuts – don’t knock ’em til you try ’em. I hear they’re very trendy, delicious and nutritious. If anyone could build a successful business from playing with coconuts it’s this Funky Fabulous crew. Next time you’re in Warsaw stop by Między Nami and tell them I say Hello. They are located at:
Między Nami Café
Bracka 20 street
tel. +48 22 828 5417
Hours of operation (Café):
Mon-Thrs: 10:00 – 23:00
Fri-Sat: 10:00 – 24:00
Sun: 14:00 – 23:00