Jessi Joyce is the Co-Founder of Berlin based restaurant Baldon, situated in Gesundbrunnen in the Mitte district. Opened in September 2018, they have been operating as a restaurant and platform for creative experiences. Having worked in gastronomy for as long as she can remember, Jessi dabbled in PR and marketing for ten years before she founded Baldon. Unfortunately, due to their lease not being extended, the physical place of Baldon is closing at the end of 2021. Here’s hoping Jessi and the team find a new home for Baldon soon!
Tell us about Baldon’s origin story and how it all came together.
I've worked in gastronomy for as long as I can remember. My mom used to run a small restaurant/Kneipe in Hamburg so working closely with people, food and drinks became an anchor in my life. I wasn't supposed to open a restaurant, not at all. I worked in PR and marketing for 10 years and then the Baldon space got offered to my business partner in a very random coincidence. She asked me if I could imagine helping her set up a pop-up restaurant.
We checked the place out and there was nothing there but concrete. Eventually, the concept, business plan and idea started taking shape and we quickly realized that it’s not going to be a pop-up, but a long-term restaurant. And here we are, a part of this stunning brutalist architectural piece!
Where do you find your energy and inspiration? And what do you do when you feel like you’ve exhausted your creativity?
Well, it depends. I try to not spend too much time on Instagram because for me it can cause this feeling of being uninspired — everyone has so much cool content! What I really like is to see the old and real Berlin. Walk around undiscovered districts such as Reinickedorf and Wedding. I used to hang around there a lot when I came to Berlin 11 years ago, and by visiting these areas again it calms me down. I love listening to stories from people who used to run nightclubs, bars and art spaces back in the 90’s and 00’s.
Do you remember your first encounter with the city?
Oh, yes. I came to visit my best friend who moved here for his studies. It ended up being more than just a visit - it gave me a direct feeling of freedom. Of course I was super young and blinded by new things, maybe even a bit mindless, but this gave me such a good feeling of finding myself in another way. I can’t put it into words. Today, Berlin is my happy place, and ironically, I think it’s when you have a family that you can truly discover Berlin and see things from another perspective.
And what does the local Berlin community mean to you?
I want to give gastronomy owners a shout out because I really enjoy how everyone supports each other. If you talk to someone about a new winery, then you also give the contact to someone. You always hear: “You have to check these guys out!” Also, we at Baldon got so much support from the local community when we started. Cookies Cream, the restaurant I’ve spent 6 years at when I moved to Berlin, was one of our biggest supporters.
And lastly, how would you define Berlin?
Berlin is a canvas and there's still so much space to define the city. What’s so fun about it, is that the city feels different to everyone. It's such a hub for creative people. I feel like everyone can still put some of their color on this canvas, and I like that.