Johann, a shepherd’s son, who as a twelve-year-old around 1786 is said to have accidentally slain a goat, flees for fear of reprisals. Quite unusually, he heads north, across the Alps, on foot from Sils Maria. After two years, he reaches Magdeburg, where he does an apprenticeship as a confectioner. He then sets out for Berlin, and in 1796 Johann Josty opens his own confectionery at the tender age of twenty-four: An der Stechbahn 1, directly opposite the Berlin Stadtschloss (City Palace)! His business flourished. The Josty, as it was soon known, quickly became firmly established. It was one of the four “confiseurs rois”, the Royal confectioneries.

Johann and his brother Daniel, a brewer, who followed him later, laid the foundation to an empire with several branches in Berlin. Even the “Berliner Weisse mit Schuss” (a white beer) traces back to the Jostys. At the beginning of the 19th century, Daniel is said to have added herbs to the beer, especially woodruff. Later on, raspberry or woodruff syrup became the usual added ingredient to the Berliner Weisse.

Potsdamer Platz – over 100 years ago, it was the pivot of all of Berlin and the busiest square in Europe. Everything converged here. Everything was bustling with activity, and in the midst of it all was the legendary Café Josty.

Theodor Fontane, Heinrich Heine and Adolph Menzel frequented the café, and so did the author Erich Kästner, who wrote his world-famous detective story Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives) on Café Josty’s terrace. The story was made into a film here at Potsdamer Platz.

The Josty disappeared with the Great Depression. The building at Potsdamer Platz, a favourite among artists and poets, was destroyed in the Second World War, like almost all of the buildings at this site.

Nearly 70 years later, the traditional Café Josty was reopened. One part of the restaurant is the heritage-protected historic breakfast hall, where now, as then, famous personalities meet up at film premieres, award ceremonies, the Berlinale or simply for lunch or dinner.

Picture Credits:
Foto [Potsdamer Platz 1927]: Landesarchiv Berlin/N.N.