50 years Restaurant Split
»Traveling to other times only exists in Science-Fiction movies? Far from it. Visiting the Restaurant Split reminds a lot on earlier days, when we used to go to the Yugo.” (Michael Kranz, 2011, Berliner Zeitung)
Welcome to Restaurant Split, the oldest Croatian restaurant in Berlin
Germany in the 1960s: The demand of foreign workers is very high. Mate Pogacic and Slavko Covic, two young men from Tijarica, a small village north from the coastal city of Split, decide to try their luck in then Western-Berlin. Both are in their early 20s and work as waiters. In the late spring of 1966 it seems as if they found the suitable premise to reach the goal of self-employment.
Before, there was only the Kolo-Grill on Kurfürstendamm, the Sisko-Grill at Wilmersdorfer Straße and the Balkan-Pik on Sonnenallee. The two young men thought there is potential for more, and soon afterwards the “Split-Grill” advanced to a popular venue for fellow countrymen. But also the German walk-in customers quickly fell in love with the warm and unusual cuisine. The concept remains the same today: Waiters, white tablecloths, Cevapcici, good service, fair prices and Sljivo on cost of the house.
With the time typical meals arise with help from the guests: The Potpourri Plate, Pola-Pola, the Robbers Plate, Julischka … things that don’t really exist in Croatia though. During the first years of the “Split-Grill” there was often a state of emergency, especially on Friday evenings, because all “Gastarbeiter” received their weekly wage on that day. At that time, the bar was located left from the entry and there were even stairs for the first floor.
Already one year after inauguration, in 1967 the two young restaurateurs decided to go seperate ways, with the result that Slavko Covic moved on and established further restaurants. Both Mate Pogacic and Slavko Covic had no idea that their concept was a forerunner for many fellow countrymen, mainly from the already mentioned village of Tijarica. In honor of that development, the main road through Tijarica was renamed to “Berliner Straße” in the 1990s. Our restaurant remains the most long-lasting in Berlin. The “Split-Grill” survived complicated periods for gastronomy unscathed like the fall of the Berlin wall and the subsequent caravans towards east.
In 2011, founder Mate Pogacic handed his restaurant over to one of his employees. Compatriot Zeljko Zarko continued with the permanent staff and with typical quality. One small change is the switch to the traditional Croatian brewery of Karlovacko. After cautious renovation, the interior still appears like the original from 1984, the lamps for example are still very “80s”.
Even if you did not visited “Split” in a long time, you will be surprised that you might even be recognized. Try it out!