German Bratwurst specialists Herman ze German is looking to ramp up its growth and expand its three-strong estate to 10 over the next few years, MCA has learned.
Six years after opening the first store in Villers Street, co-founder Azi Falakshahi said the brand had evolved from a takeaway into a fast-casual restaurant.
Falakshahi said adapting Herman ze German into a physical store from its roots as a pub pop-up and festival stall had been a challenge – but said she and partner Florian Frey were in a strong position to expand.
She said: “It’s been a real learning curve because we weren’t from the industry and didn’t have the experience setting something like this up. Plus we’d never lived in London, so it was a bit brave.
“We had to really learn what it meant to have a permanent shop in the centre of London.
“We had to change things around and adapt to our surroundings, which has been really great but also quite exhausting.
“It’s now at the stage we understand what’s going on with the three shops. We feel like we’re in a great position.”
She and Frey met in their Black Forest homeland near the Swiss border, also the home of their prized sausages.
Frustrated with the lack of quality Bratwurst in the UK, Azi would freeze sausages and bring them over to Brighton where she was living at the time, and fell into pop-ups at The Dorset and Fishbowl pubs in around 2008.
“We noticed that people don’t really know what the sausages tasted like,” she said. “It naturally grew and rather than just being a business idea out of wanting to show people the product.”
After two years on the festival circuit, the pair secured investment from Swiss backers and set about replicating the basic currywurst vendors common in German cities in London– though they struggled to find the right sites.
“We got tangled up in that initial idea but adapted it a bit in size and concept and changed it into a fast casual from a pure takeaway.
“I think we’ve found a great middle ground. We can do the really small units if we get the location, as the concept is quite flexible, but it’s the fast casual format we’re aiming to rollout.”
They are looking at busy areas in areas such as Kings Cross, Camden, Peckham, Shoreditch as potential locations and are open to investment from experienced restaurant operators.
Herman ze German’s Fitzrovia branch has just launched an extended cocktail menu including Fritz-Kola mixers, and a new beer menu with Berliner Pilsner, Schneider Weisse Tap 1 and Tap 7 joining its own-brewed BLCK Forrest Brew on draft.