By Joe Anuta
A staple of Ridgewood dining and a monument to the area’s German roots will be expanding its restaurant next month to include a small retail store, which means the goulash soup that helped make Zum Stammtisch famous will be available all the time.
The eatery’s soups, along with German meats and imported goods, will be available at the fabled restaurant that has occupied 69-46 Myrtle Ave. for nearly 40 years. And Werner Lehner, who owns the eatery with his brother, will sell a little bit of nostalgia with each item.
“You want people to come in and remember things,” he said.
Lehner said his wife, who emigrated from Germany, could hardly contain her excitement after leafing through the catalogs that advertised supplies she once used without a thought but now trigger memories of home.
“She said, ‘Oh, my gosh, we used to have that as a kid.’ She’s going to be our best customer,” Lehner said. “We’ll have everything from German soaps and bath products to coffee to food in jars and cans.”
Lehner will also carry signature German side dishes like potato or herring salad, sauerkraut and pickles.
Similar imports from the old country used to be sold at several stores around the neighborhood, Lehner said. But over the years, the number of locations declined as the German population of the area shrank.
Forest Pork Store and two Karl Kehmer stores, all of which used to sell meats and imports, have either closed their Ridgewood locations or switched to strictly wholesale.
But demand for the products continues from the remaining German residents, Lehner said, along with the largely Polish and Eastern European population that now characterizes much of the neighborhood.
“I find that the Polish people enjoy the German products as well,” he said.
But Lehner hopes to serve Ridgewood residents from all different types of backgrounds.
“I’m German, but I don’t go out for German food all the time. I’ll go out for sushi,” Lehner said. “It’s the same thing for other nationalities.”
German food and products can be a satisfying exercise in culture for anyone.
“The idea is to remind German people what they used to get back home and to introduce other cultures to something new,” Lehner said.
The store will be attached to the restaurant and pub. Lehner hopes to open in early March pending several inspections by the city.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.