2022-04-11Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/24395
Berlin’s Japanese foodscapes during the COVID-19 crisis
Restaurateurs’ experiences and practices during the spring 2020 shutdown
The spring 2020 restaurant shutdown after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Berlin hit Japanese restaurateurs at the height of the popularity of Japanese cuisine in Germany. This paper explores how Japanese restaurateurs in Berlin experienced this shutdown from March to May 2020. Based on fieldwork in Berlin, it asks whether and how they continued selling food during the shutdown, compares their experiences and points out similarities and differences that are based on the type of eateries, the restaurateurs’ personal migration histories and the degree of their local embeddedness in Berlin. I pay particular attention to strategies of selling and marketing food during the restaurant shutdown via takeout and delivery services and discuss the material culture of protecting customers and staff from COVID-19 during and after the lockdown against the backdrop of Japanese restaurateurs’ perceptions of health risks. The paper focusses on ethnic Japanese restaurateurs because most of their restaurants are small, independent establishments, and the majority was closed during the shutdown. Although all research participants belong to the same ethnic community, their experiences during and after the shutdown were quite diverse. I argue that their experiences and strategies were influenced by economic factors related to the type of restaurant they run rather than by their ethnicity.
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