LAWRENCE is a place that makes you feel home right away. Colourful flowers in glass vases lined up on a white bar paired with red-brick walls create an ambience of homely coziness.
Turquois benches that used to be doors tempt you to stay a little longer. The air is filled with the scent of Syrian food and spices. Tables are bustling: „East meets West, Jews, Christians and Muslims, all coming together. LAWRENCE has become a second home not only to me but to many newcomers who have lost their home“, says Bashar Hassoun.
In 2017 Bashar Hassoun opens the doors to LAWRENCE at the former Jewish quarter in Berlin. Only four years after he had fled from Damaskus to Germany, where he ran a flourishing family business. The war however put an end to it. Driven by his desire to build a connection between his old and his new home that is also a place where people meet, Bashar Hassoun step by step started his own business once more. In 2016 he meets the director and author Frank Alva Buecheler, who would then become his business partner. Together they found a charitable organization called FREEARTUS. „We aspire to connect people with one another using the global language of art“, says Bashar Hassoun. Therefore LAWRENCE is much more than a restaurant. It is just as well a cultural center. There is a gallery and coworking space on the first floor, hosting exhibitions, theater performances and concerts on a regular basis.
One aspect of LAWRENCE’s concept is the active integration of newcomers into happenings and events. Kitchen and service is mostly run by refugees or people with a migrant background. „Some of them come in for one hour per week to work. They are looking for a task and love their work place. That’s what drives me“, says Bashar Hassoun. He calls LAWRENCE his „second baby“. His first baby is his son, who was born 8 months ago in Berlin