Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Frank's Pig-Pen in West Berlin: Old advertisement and some memories


This advertisement for Frank's Pig-Pen, a former bar/restaurant in West Berlin, appears in the October 1971 issue of Berlin Today, a dining and entertainment guide that was partially geared toward the U.S. military members stationed there.

Berlin Today featured information for travelers, church-service listings, shopping guides and many advertisements for West Berlin's night life. The magazine's center spread contained a map of West Berlin that also showed the location of East Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie, along the Berlin Wall.

Frank's Pig-Pen was open seven days per week, from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Its cuisine included numerous Italian specialties, "French Snails," fried chicken, U.S.-style steak, barbecued spare ribs, fried shrimp and schnitzel.

I found these memories of Frank's Pig-Pen while scouring various Internet comment threads and message boards. (I did some very light editing on some of them.)
  • "It was a few blocks up the street from Andrews barracks, at the corner of Martha Strasse and Kadettenweg. Frank's served bar food, like pizza, sausage, and fried potatoes. The upstairs was where the owner (Frank) lived."1
  • In January 2001, George DeBuchananne wrote: "The building still stands as of last summer. It is now a residence. ... I got to know Frank and Sabenia quite well. ... [Frank] realized how much money he could make by selling Italian food to GI's sick of wurst & salad. The funny part was that he really thought that he could create a 'Class Place' rather than just another smelly watering hole. Actually, Frank could cook. He had always told me that he was Italian from Brooklyn, NY. When he and Sabenia moved out of their apartment and into the place over their new bar, they thought they had hit the big time! The only trouble was that Frank spoke no German. Sabenia had all the papers made out in her name so when their relationship hit the rocks the place was like a soap opera. After the big blow-up I heard that Sabenia went for 'class' and tried to turn the place into a 'Key Club'. That didn't last long. I heard that Frank went to the Azores or somewhere and started another restaurant."2
  • Arnold Townsend, commenting on an unrelated story on PowerLineBlog.com, wrote: "I'll never forget 'Frank's Pig Pen' in Berlin. The food was pretty good all things considered. But for someone like me, from the Southern portion of the Bible Belt, it was most definitely an eye-opener."
  • An anonymous commenter wrote: "I remember Kramer's Place ... they had good pizza and beer ... and yes, I also remember The Golden Sun ... we called it The Golden Scum ... and that's where I was when we landed on the moon for the first time in July 1969 ... We also hung out at Frank's Place ... go straight out the front gate, cross over F'Allee and walk one block ...on the right .... we called it Frank's Pig Pen .... I staggered back to the barracks from Frank's on many nights."3
  • Finally, "Army Medic Dad" wrote: "Two blocks up the street from Kramer's Pizza was Frank's Pig Pen. It was a bar/grill run by a U.S. Army veteran and his wife. Around midnight, he would close the place to all the civilians then would bring in local 'dancing' girls, who would perform for the U.S. soldiers. There were a couple times I didn't leave there until dawn. I'd post photos but then I'd have to kill you."4

More from the October 1971 issue of Berlin Today

Footnotes
1 and 2. Both of these memories come from the "Bars, and Other FSB Watering Holes" page (which also has a photo of Frank's) on The Field Station Berlin Vets Group website (http://fsbvg.homestead.com/index.html).
3. This was found in the comment thread for a 2011 video titled "Andrews Barracks Kaserne West Berlin Germany" at this URL.
4. This comment was on a GoArmyParents.com message board.

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