Saturday, April 25, 2009

Das Wurst Haus

"Every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for." Thorton Wilder wrote it, and Peter Hoffman carved it into the huge wooden plank that hung on for years on the back wall of a local bakery. It came to mind again yesterday as I walked into Das Wurst Haus. I was surprised a little to be greeted by Arv, with his toothy smile and his greeting hand. It's a good handshake, long, firm but not bone crushing. After the first shake he waits a beat, leans forward... making intense eye contact, "Hello, my friend (everyone is Arv's friend), continuing his grip, "My friend Gunnar, how's it going?", then a final slow squeeze and release. It is kind of a generic question. He's really letting me know that he still remembers my name - which is a rare thing for him. I was surprised because Arv sold his restaurant some time ago, two owners back. He still came in every day to greet people and play polka music on his accordion, rather badly, but with gusto. Often other old Germans musicans would come in with their instruments and his wife would join in on the piano. Then a year ago he and his wife (who's name slips me at the moment) moved 45 miles away to Winona. I didn't see Arv at all last summer. So yesterday I asked why he was back there, and I got this long story about how it was closing this Spring, and people don't want to work these days, and it was 25 years, and he still loves people, and he couldn't let it go down, and he missed his friends. So he bought it back at a firesale price and moved back to town to do what he loves.

The reason that it is so much work is that they make the hard rolls themselves, they make the bratwurst and sauerkraut and the six different mustards to put on them; they make the rootbeer. When I say they "make", I don't mean they thaw something and then heat it up. Everything is made from scratch. Everything but the beer, the beer is factory brewed by Schells (since 1853).
Young people tend to think that everything is getting better, that all good things will last. I have seen good things come and go - good people come and go. I would guess that Arv and his Schotze are 70 to 75 years old. I know in my soul that this will soon all be a distant memory. It is standing for the moment on the razor-edge of danger.

2 comments:

reverend dick said...

Get in there while the gettin is good and eat the hell out of some brats.

Anonymous said...

that place sounds fantastic! he should sell franchises...



I'm kidding, of course!

Allan Pollock