There were lederhosen and festive music. Samples of Sheboygans and Hannover Wurst.
And a tear here and there.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dittmer’s finally, finally, re-opened.
The long-awaited rebirth of Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats & Wurst-Haus, many months in the making, at last took place, as Dittmer Bubert, his wife, Margaret, son Mark, and daughter Petra, opened the doors at 4540 El Camino Real to the restive throng who had watched the remodeling of the new building with growing anticipation.
“They came out from every corner,” said the elated Dittmer, looking about at the crowds. “There must have been 50 or 60 people waiting.”
After fire that destroyed the old Dittmer's customers were bereft. for 33 years, and it was too old to remodel there, wife Margaret said. The old Dittmer's signage is still there.
The new Dittmer’s is in a former Wells Fargo Bank branch on the south side of El Camino Real, just west of the San Antonio Road intersection, adjacent to the Village Court Shopping Center.
“My refrigerator is the old vault,” quipped Petra, who had worked hard with Perry Guillory of W.L. Butler Construction day in and day out to create the new Dittmer's.
The new Dittmer's is roomier. There are several display cases, places for the full range of some 160 products. The very popular sandwich operation won't be up and running until September.
It was a happy day.
Outside, under a blue tent, Tony Stone manned the grill and Bubert’s 19-year-old grandson, Thomas Palu, explained the sample tray of Hannover Wurst, Cajun links, Sheboygans and chicken mushroom sausages.
The first customer had arrived at 8 a.m. and waited two hours just to be the first in line. The normally jovial Mark Bubert got teary at the moment of opening.
During the 18 months of searching for a site and then remodeling it and getting permits, Petra kept customers updated with photographs posted on Dittmer's Facebook page.
Twelve of the old staff came back after those long months. Three didn’t. One is new, she said. They wanted to keep their staff, whose knowledge of the wide product line is essential to providing good service, she said.
At lunchtime, and throughout the day, the customers smiled as they carried away their prizes—er, purchases.
Robert Toland of San Jose, showed off two pounds each chicken bell pepper and chicken spinach sausage. Then he pulled out the Santa Maria Tri-Tip and a jar of Dusseldorf style mustard. Maybe it will last through lunch, he speculated.
Hollis Bischoff and her son, Nathaniel, showed up around 11 a.m., after her husband texted her to get over there. They picked out an assortment of garlic sausage, chicken, broccoli cheddar sausage, smoked salmon, chicken apple sausage and more.
Eileen Lerch and friend Michele Harrison, both of of Palo Alto, ventured over during their walk, after noticing the construction fence had come down. During those long months of Dittmer’s closure, Lerch said she had sorely missed Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings enriched with Dittmer’s bacon for 28 years. She was making bacon avocado sandwiches for dinner, and then Thursday night planned a sausage extravaganza of Sheboygans, French wine, chicken bell pepper and Cajun links, she said.
“They are excellent meat cutters and it is all authentic,” said Marie Hoffman, president of the Excelsior German Center in Oakland, pointing out the roladen, or rolled beef, as an example. Many Germans travel from around the Bay Area to find Dittmer’s.
And it’s not hard to understand why.
“There is nowhere else like this,” Hoffman said.