He’s one of the trio who founded some of the trendiest bars and clubs in Munich. Niels Jäger, 42 and father of two boys, recently opened a design hotel (“The Flushing Meadows Hotel & Bar”), but also runs green smoothie shop “Super Danke” and cozy farm-to-table restaurant, “Cantine Cantona,” among others. Through their creative and successful concepts, the three friends are revealing the truly exciting potential of life in Munich. That’s why I wanted to meet him and ask for his favorite spots, as a dad and a night-clubber…
It’s 9.15am in Munich, the sun is heating up and I’m excited to start my day with this rock’n roll entrepreneur, who asked me to visit him at his nightclub “Bob Beaman,” where he had several meetings lined up. The spot is dark ,the aroma of last night’s cigarettes and alcohol still lingering in the air, so we choose to sit outside and talk over sodas in the club’s garden.
Thank you Niels for your warm response to my emails (He gave me such great contacts in Munich, but I’ve lost hope of seeing them all on my four-day trip). Can you tell me about yourself? Were you born in Munich?
Yes, I was born in Munich and spent two years in the United States (NYC) with my parents and sisters while I was growing up. I then came back to the European School Munich for my baccalaureate. Most of my school friends moved abroad – but I stayed here. I studied communications, which was pretty boring, and started taking on little jobs in nightlife. I worked the bar for a while and became a doorman at the notorious P1 club. It’s a good way to start because you get to know everybody… I started to host parties with two friends of mine, Sascha and Steffen – both architects and graphic designers – and things grew from there. We started with music bars “ZKV” and “Edmoses.”It’s practical because we do everything in-house: concepts, architecture, graphics, communication…
Your team also launched a concept Café (Stéréo Café), a restaurant (Cantine Cantona), a green smoothie (Super Danke) bar and a design hotel (The Flushing Meadows). All of these concepts are so trendy and popular in the city. How do you manage all of these businesses? What was your original goal?
We wanted to make spots where our friends would feel at home. Our staff is the secret, I guess – their vibe is crucial. None of our projects are alike, which makes things complicated – but we always grow and learn with each new location and idea.
What do you like about Munich?
It’s small enough to easily keep up with all of my friends, but big enough to always find and meet new people. I love New York, Berlin and other big, dramatic cities, but Munich is home. It’s like an island… Cozy, familiar, safe. I always say, all it’s missing is the beach, some palm trees, and the ocean. Other that that, it’s perfect – for me anyway.
What do your weekends look like with family?
In summertime, we go to Wörthsee, a lake in the Bavarian countryside. It is just 25 minutes by car and my family has a little house there. We can also go hiking or skiing in the mountains in winter – but I’m usually too lazy for that. When we stay in Munich, we do typical things – we like going to the beergarden, to the lakes, riding our bikes in the Englisher Garten or relaxing at the Isar river… I also like to go to « Kinderkunsthaus » with my youngest who loves art.
How do you blend your professional and family lives?
The problem with my job is that my day never really stops. I regularly work the door at our music club “Bob Beaman,” for example, because it’s important to host our guests, to see who’s coming and going. Now that my kids are old enough to do things alone in the morning, everything is a little bit easier… (he laughs) But when they were younger, I used to come back home at 5 in the morning, exhausted, it was very difficult…. I have to admit my wife does the lion’s share with our kids; she takes care of most of the logistics. She’s a part time photographer and interior-designer so she’s a little more flexible – thank God. Now that they are 10 and 13 years old, we have a lot more common interests – I love playing basketball or watching sports games with them. And one of my favorite moments of the day is taking Jamie to school in the morning. He doesn’t always love it, but I’ve kind of forced the tradition on him.
Where do you go to have lunch or dinner with them?
Next week, our restaurant in Schwabing – « Cantine Cantona” – will start serving brunch on Saturdays, so we will be there often (between 10am and 5pm)…. Other restaurants we love to go to include “Bar d’el Osteria” (there are loads of great Italian spots in Munich, which is often called Italy’s most northern city), Bar Corso, Koriander (Vietnamese) and Buffet Kull, which serves a killer NY Steak. With kids, I would suggest Lo Student for pizza or Augustiner Biergarten (they have a nice playground and great beer).
There are many museums in Munich, it’s hard to choose which to visit. Which would you recommend ?
The Brandhorst, Haus der Kunst or Pinakothek der Moderne. The kids enjoy the BMW Museum and Olympia Park, which is just across the street and full of playgrounds. The Deutsches Museum is also a must for kids, but it can get tiresome for parents – it’s a bit too big.
Tell me what I have to do in Munich before leaving…
Order a “Hoibs Hend’l, Riesenbreze, Kartoffelsalat and Maß” (half a chicken, giant pretzel, traditional potato salad, and a liter of beer) at the beer garden! If your kids are into football, take them to Säbenerstrasse and watch the FC Bayern pros practice (if coach Pep Guardiola is in a good mood).
Coming to Munich with kids for Oktoberfest, do or don’t ?
Do. Kids love Oktoberfest and there are loads of things for them to do[, like eating loads of candy, riding the merry-go-rounds, riding horses and shooting a gun] – stuffing their faces with candy, riding the merry-go-rounds, horsebacking riding… Every Tuesday is kid’s day, so all of the ride are cheaper (but still quite expensive). Just Make sure you have a babysitter at night…
What are The best cocktail bars and clubs in Munich and why?
James T. Hunt and Schumann’s Bar. The latter is a Munich classic and one of the best bars in the world, probably because the spot’s owner, Charles Schumann, is such a unique host. James T. Hunt is one of our go-to destinations in Munich’s up-and-coming Maxvorstadt. It gets very full after 10pm – if you prefer a relaxed setting, get there early to watch the sun go down and enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Schellingstrasse. Cheers!
For more information on Niels’s spots see: www.arnoldjaegerwerner.com