Rousing shouts of "Prosit!" and boot-shaped vials frothing over with hearty, dark German-style crack are the order of the day at Hans von Kreutzen's new neighborhood Krackhaüs.
"Welkommen, alle!" bellows Hans to several glassy-eyed baseheads staggering through the ornately carved oak doors of Das Kracken Haüs, the family-style crack-cocaine freebasing emporium and eatery he has built in the Germantown area of East New York. "So, you vant a hit on der krackpipe, ya?"
As a desperate young woman huddles near the Krackhaüs' charming, gingerbread-trimmed bar, offering a man oral sex in exchange for $10, von Kreutzen recalls his establishment's humble roots. "I vas saddened to see zat my neighborhood had lost sight of its strong ethnic roots," he says. "The kinder were smoking the rock out on the avenue. So I built mein Krackhaüs. Now zey have somewhere to go and frei-base in der old German style!"
"Ve make and refine our own product here," says von Kreutzen, obviously proud of his operation. "Der Krack is made in many styles, including Dark, Krack Bock, and a full-bodied, malty Kracktoberfest Pilsner."
All von Kreutzen's offerings are produced by his on-premises Krackmeister in strict accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1977, which states that the raw flaked cocaine must not be stepped on more than twice before being cut with kitchen powder. The kitchen also serves up hearty Kokenschnitzel with heavy cream sauces, as well as a variety of sausages.
The hearty, full-bodied nature of the product means that customer turnover is high. "Some days der ragged, emaciated bodies of ze junkies are staked up in ze back like corpses," says von Kreutzen. "But even zat has its roots in German culture!"
"Ich liebe Das Kracken Haüs!" says apple-cheeked waitress Heidi Schtrundle. "This is the only place in East New York where you can cook up to the hearty oompah rhythms of the Krack Barrel Polka. Also, if you're a lady who's broke and still needs a hit, you can just let Hans have some fun under your Dirndl."
Das Kracken Haüs is decorated in the great German style. Huge stained oak tables are the perfect place to enjoy an old-fashioned "massive fatal heart attack." Torches line the walls, giving off a warm glow to see more easily what's cooking in "Der Kracklab." The enormous fieldstone fireplace is the centerpiece for the traditional Krackhead dance, in which one alternates between scuttling closer to the fire's heat and flinching from its light.
"Come, gather round!" von Kreutzen calls out to a large crowd of blond-haired, ruddy-faced addicts. "Und have some delicious Wienerblow!"
Though the story sometimes varies, legend has it that von Kreutzen started his Krackhaüs with money he acquired from the sale of miscellaneous art items his father had imported from Europe in the late summer of 1944. With a small business loan from an Argentinean bank and local connections, Der Kracken Haüs was soon open for business.
And they've been hooked ever since. "Try it—you will enjoy," von Kreutzen says. "Und if you OD, und have to go to ze hospital with toxic shock, tell them Hans sent you!"