Anja Gauggel says many people around the world are eating bratwursts all wrong.
Bratwursts not supposed to be served in hoagie rolls or sandwich buns, like how some McDonald’s restaurants serve them in Europe.
German bratwursts are supposed to be served in round German buns, like the ones Gauggel sells at her deli German Deli International Wursthaus in Largo.
“If I sell my German bratwurst, I’m going to put my German bun with it,” says Gauggel matter-of-factedly. “It just tastes different – that’s why people buy it here instead of going to the grocery store; people who know and like the German taste – they come here.”
The deli is embellished with German products and décor, including photos of German countrysides mounted on the walls, numerous German flags posted throughout and the fleet of German meats and homemade sausages neatly laid into rows across in deli cases.
If there’s a place where locals can escape from Largo and visit a slice of Germany in their own backyard, that place would be the German Deli International Wursthaus, or “house of sausage." It's between Highland Avenue and Keene Road on East Bay Drive.
No doubt about it.
Even the store’s flat-screen television features Mittayrmagazin, meaning “Lunch Magazine,” a German news program set on public television programs.
As the owner of the bright-yellow building at 1995 East Bay Dr, Gauggel, 39, knows all about German bratwursts, butchery and bun-making. She, her husband and her mother have been running their deli since 1999 after taking it over from a German couple who owned it previously.
Originally from Southern Germany, Gauggel became a certified butcher while growing up and living there, and she learned how to cook from her family – not from a professional school.
“The cooking comes – just natural,” she says modestly.
She then moved to Largo and found the German deli she currently owns for sale.
“That’s why we ended up in Largo,” said Gauggel of her store. She also lives locally in Largo. “We came before on vacation, and we just loved it; the weather, the beach – especially Florida.”
Gauggel sells a variety of authentic German imports at the deli, which make their way all the way from Germany to New York, from where they’re then driven about once a month to the Largo store. Some of these items include dumplings, liquor-filled chocolates, packaged breads, cakes, wines, beers, spices, meats, advents calendars and many others. The store even sells pins and patches with the German flag and also holiday cards written in German.
She also sells homemade hot lunches, which she started doing about a year ago, such as schnitzel (breaded pork) with potato salad, bratwurst and roll, and currywurst. She says leberkaese is a very popular item, which is a pork and beef meatloaf baked in a pan, as well as beef roulachen, beef goulash and sauerbraten.
What’s different about her store and her products in comparison to others, besides it being so bluntly German?
“It’s unique and it’s natural food, so you don’t have the chemicals,” says Gauggel, adding that factory-made products use chemicals and fillers in their sausages and meats. “I think it’s healthier to go to a small store and get the homemade stuff than just to eat the factory stuff.”
Though she says some people still prefer to eat factory-made products because they grew up eating them and are used to them.
All kinds of people come to her store, she says, including some from Orlando and Ocala, a lot of locals, relocated Germans who are looking for foods from their homeland and even visiting snowbirds.
As far as the future is concerned, she says she doesn’t have any plans to expand her store or open another deli at another location. She just wants to keep it the same and continue to maintain her German microcosm.
“I want to keep everything real,” says Gauggel. “Because if I don’t get the real thing, I can go to McDonald’s.”
If you go
What: German Deli International Wursthaus
Where: 1995 East Bay Dr
Times: Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays and Mondays.