American family business you say? Well, for some folks that conjures up iconic imagery. For others, it conjures up that imagery and a whole lot more. Family dynamics. Long hours. Short vacations. Good years. And, not so good years.
You see, here at Bavarian Meats, we’ve been a family business ever since Grandpa Max opened shop in the Pike Place Market in 1961. And, yep, you better believe this family business has seen it all in our fifty-six years. We are still at the same location in the Market and are now a third-generation gig, being run by my identical sister and me. We have 28 employees, an authentic German deli, and we make more than fifty wholesale products in our small warehouse weekly.
To put it simply, we are jacks of all trades and never quite know what’s gonna be tossed our way. It’s like a reality show 24/7. Just when we think we can tackle something in one sitting or finally launch that new product, a pipe springs a leak in the warehouse or someone is stuck in traffic and late for work. And, when it comes to managing the fourth-generation leaders at Bavarian Meats…now teenagers…well, we won’t even go there.
That being said there are good days and deliciously great days. In early September, we had a great day.
Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” was in Seattle. He was scouting around for his new show, “The Zimmern List,” which will launch this fall. We had heard he might stop in but nothing was definite. Then around 1:30, he walked into our little deli with his crew and a sincere curiosity.
Like any other day, we had all arrived for work prepared to crank out the wieners, the brats, the bacon and the hot lunches. Only this day was different because our brand new spicy head cheese took center stage while we stood on the sidelines. The limelight was on the legacy and not the drudgery.
Sitting on a stool overlooking the parade of people outside, Zimmern sampled our classic blood and tongue and our recently introduced spicy head cheese, which is a twist on our Old World classic. Photos were shot. Energy flowed.
We are pretty sure we’ve made the cut, but for us that isn’t the meat of the story. The real story here is that Andrew and his crew are exploring small unique places like ours. They are investing time and energy into celebrating those foods made with heart, hand, head and a hell of a lot of grit.
Before Andrew left, he looked at me and simply said, “Thanks for keeping a place like this going for so long. “
At that moment, Grandpa Max roared.
Andrew Zimmern with the crew at Bavarian Meats in the Pike Place Market, Seattle, September 6, 2017
Andrew Zimmern at Bavarian Meats in the Pike Place Market, September 6, 2017
Andrew Zimmern and crew scouting for his new show, “The Zimmern List”, September 6, 2017
Andrew Zimmern and crew at Bavarian Meats in the Pike Place Market, Seattle 6, 2017