Branches of the Establishment
How an old bank was turned into the largest and best-known coffeehouse in Switzerland: A success story.
Where is there a need? What is meaningful and what is not? How can we design an establishment that directs its work towards actual, human needs?
The roots of unternehmen mitte lie in the following Basel cultural projects: Alte Stadtgärtnerei (1986-88), ZONE (1987-90), GEDANKENBANK (1988-90) Werkraum Schlotterbeck (1990-93), Werkraum Warteck (since 1993) and unternehmen EPOQUE (1997-98).
The prospect of buying an extraordinarily beautiful villa with park in Basel paved the way to the founding of unternehmen mitte. That was in the summer of 1998. Thomas Tschopp and Daniel Häni operated unternehmen EPOQUE in the villa by means of an interim-use contract. However, at the close of the sales negotiations “we boys outbluffed ourselves” – and thankfully so!
For only three months later, on November 4th, 1998, the ownership of a much larger and much more interesting building could then change hands – the former headquarters of the Schweizerische Volksbank (the Swiss People’s Bank) in the centre of Basel. Together with the Edith Maryon Foundation, this stately building – at the time owned by Credit Suisse – could be acquired for the moderate price of CHF 10 million.
unternehmen mitte was founded as a private limited company on December 17th, 1998 by Georg Hasler, Thomas Tschopp and Daniel Häni and entered a 15-year quasi-property rental agreement with the Edith Maryon Foundation on December 31st.
The venture’s founding was a breakthrough in the Basel cultural movement. For the first time, a building could be secured not just for the purpose of interim use but by purchase with secured, long-lasting ownership rights. The Edith Maryon Foundation’s guarantee prevents the reselling of and any speculative transactions in relation to the building. The rent reflects the sum of all actual incurred costs including mortgage interest rates, loan interests, depreciation and maintenance costs.
Since 2012, the rental agreement has been indefinite.
New Year’s 1998/99:
Relocation from the „Villa Epoque“ to Gerbergasse 30
8. April 1999:
Remodelling and opening of the Fumare non Fumare bars
Remodelling of the 1st + 3rd floor co-working space
Opening of the coffeehouse
Remodelling of the health centers
New Year’s 2005/06:
Founding of the Basic Income Initiative
Portrait in the economics magazine: brand eins
Film premiere: Grundeinkommen – ein Kulturimpuls
Benjamin Hohlmann takes over management of gastronomy
OLOID-WOCHE – The ball gets rolling
Radio-Kulturcafé DRS 2 – Two weeks live from the coffeehouse
Installation of the STEINER LINE
Founding of the Kaffee-Akademie
Start of the Kaffee-Mobil at Marktplatz
Founding of Generation Basic Income
mitte-COLA is here
Portrait in the business section of ZEIT
Opening of Café Frühling in Kleinbasel
4. October 2013:
Submission of the people’s initiative and money-mountain performance
Swiss championship title in coffee brewing
Partners of the GmbH were and are:
Daniel Häni (since 1998)
Thomas Tschopp (1998-2014)
Georg Hasler (1998-2006)
Rembert Biemond (2001-2004)
Anton Marty (2001-2001)
Rainer Senn (2001-2010)
Carmen Bregy (2004-2006)
Tarik Nazari (2004-2007)
Benjamin Hohlmann (since 2010)
unternehmen mitte: Facts + Figures 2013
Gastronomy Revenue: 3.7 million CHF
Number of effective work hours as hosts: 42’272
Number of guests per day: 1000
Coffee processing per year in tons: 3.2
This equates to a coffee plantation with about 650 coffee trees
Number of coffee drinks sold per year: 240’000
Of which are Latte-Macchiatos: 59’000
Cows for milk used in the coffeehouse: 7
Usage of toilet paper per year: 10’000 Rollen
Registered payments 2013: 8069
Baristas trained in the Kaffee Akademie: 239
Number of events and meetings 2013: 1200
Rented co-working spaces: 100
Year of construction of the bank building: 1912
Usable space: 4000 m2
Site area: 1008m2
Children born in-house: 4
New Business Models – Non-Profit Status
unternehmen mitte also represents new business models. Founded as a private limited company in 1998, the undertaking distinguishes itself as a new form of non-profit status. This status is comprised of two principles:
1. The owners of the private limited company do not partake in the profit earnings.
They may not privatise profit earnings. Additionally, the owners themselves are obligatorily active managing directors. Thus, the profit earnings remain bound with the business objectives, and the ownership cannot be separated from the entrepreneurship.
2. Should an owner leave the business, he may not claim his ownership as a valued asset.
He may resign from the company, only nominally, with his share value. This is – in comparison to the value of the company as a whole – much less, thereby keeping the company’s objectives targeted not towards profit maximisation but rather towards the development of meaningful purpose.
With these two principles, it is possible to achieve a transparent motivation: The work itself is the motive, not the money. Consequently, increased quality is attained in the business. This principle of free motivation is also extended to the guests. They may freely stay in the house, without any obligation to consume product. Initially, many believed this was “a foolish business model.” Nevertheless, it has been the foundation of our success.
He who is not forced to, has the freedom to.
Kaffee ist mehr als nur ein Koffeinlieferant
20 Minuten | 2014
ORF 2 | 2014
Das Grundeinkommen für jeden
Bayrisches Fernsehen | 2014
Kaffeegenuss der langsamen Art
Hotel Revue | 2014
Unternehmen Mitte eröffnet Café Frühling
Tageswoche | 2013
Neue Gedanken denken
Gastro Journal | 2013
ARTE Metropolis | 2013
Info 3 | 2013
Was bewegt Daniel Häni?
ZEIT | 2013
Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen: Sind Sie Fantast oder Visionär?
Tele Basel | 2012
Wir sind besser als unser Ruf
ZEIT | 2010
Daniel Häni – Grundeinkommen für alle
3SAT | 2010
Unternehmeen Mitte – Geld ist ein super Ermöglicher
a tempo | 2010
Grundeinkommen: 2500 Franken für alle
SRF ECO | 2010
Der Turmbauer zu Basel
TAZ | 2009
Dem Himmel ein bisschen näher
BAZ | 2009
Ein Film-Plädoyer für eine radikale Idee
DRS 2 | 2008
Wer nicht muss, der kann
brand eins | 2008
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