German Gourmet in Little Guatemala?

German Gourmet. It doesn't look particularly gourmet on the outside, but it's the inside that counts.

German Gourmet. It doesn’t look particularly gourmet on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

So for the last six months I’ve been walking by the German Gourmet during my lunch break. The German Gourmet is located in what I would unofficially call little Guatemala (and littler Vietnam) between a dry cleaners, a Shell gas station,  El Banco Agricola de Guatemala and Pollo Campero. It’s situated in Bailey’s Crossroads, a neighborhood/place that consists mostly of low-rise  apartment complexes, older homes, Latino and Vietnamese shops, stores and restaurants, gas stations and auto shops. It’s a culturally fascinating area, but not the kind of neighborhood you’d expect to find a German Gourmet, so you can understand why this has been a place of intrigue for me for the last few months.  

I was never completely convinced that this was a legitimate business and I thought there might be something shady going on here but today I finally decided to put my doubts to rest and do a little Internet research. I found out the following:

1.) The German Gourmet was originally owned by Wilhelm Wenzel of Germany, who opened the shop in 1962 in D.C. Later, the shop was sold to Raimund Pagani of Switzerland who in turn sold it to the Haene brothers, also of Swiss descent.

2.) Although the original shop was in D.C, it was later moved to Arlington, then to Falls Church and then to Bailey’s Crossroads, where it is today.

3.) One can buy the following items at the German Gourmet: Chocolate, pastries, beer, homemade salads, breads, cheeses, bratwurst, cold cuts and desserts, among others. I’m hoping to go inside next time and will let you know what else I discover.

I feel satisfied now that this is an actual, legitimate business, but I’m still intrigued. Why Bailey’s Crossroads? Who buys groceries here? How are German cold cuts different from American cold cuts? So I e-mailed the current owners to see if it would be possible to talk to someone more about this subject and perhaps take a few pictures of the inside of the shop (I think it would be kind of weird to just walk in and start taking pictures). I hope to have more answers for you in the next few days.

If anyone else knows of any interesting/intriguing ethnic shops, please let me know. And if you have actually shopped at the German Gourmet, I’m very interested in talking to you.



Categories: D.C, Observations, Suburbs, The Urban Anthropologist Files, Virginia

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