Postcard from... Munich


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The Independent Online

The sign hanging in the window of Lazos Food and Drink – a bright red pizza and pasta kiosk on Munich’s Poccistrasse, is only the size of a piece of A4 paper, but  it’s message is big all the same. “Are you hungry but without money ?” it asks. “Here you can eat and pay later, or if not – God will forgive you. Nobody should go hungry,”

The kiosk’s owner, Turkish-born Mehmet Kücük, has been making his special offer to Munich’s poor ever since he opened shop in 2010. He says he gives a free meal to about two customers a day, but nearly all of them come back later and settle their bills – even if sometimes it takes them a month or two.

Mr Kücük, 45, came to Germany when he was six. He says his charity is inspired by his own experiences as a businessman who himself went bust. Back then he resorted to plundering his children’s piggy banks to get hold of a few euros. “It can happen to anyone,” he insists, pointing to several of his own customers who rely on refunds from empty drink bottles to survive.

Mr Kücük’s kiosk was discovered by the media at the end of February. Since then it has become famous. At the last count, stories across a number of media outlets have been viewed tens of thousands of times.

But to the disappointment of many, Lazos Food and Drink will close at the end of the month. Mr Kücük is returning to Turkey to look after his sick mother. Before he goes he will host a big party at his kiosk. It won’t be free – the takings will be donated to cancer research.