A store that plans to stock a variety of traditional German food and gift items, with a small cafe in the works as well, will be opening its doors Saturday on 13th Street in Phenix City.
German Food, Gifts & More — located at 711 13th St., just east of Phenix-Girard Bank — is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. Saturday and close at 5 p.m. in what owner Heika Horning is calling a soft opening. The store will open as well this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The cafe should make its debut in late February during the grand opening, she said.
“I am from Germany. That was a major reason for doing this,” Horning said Friday via phone during her drive back from Atlanta to purchase goods, including loads of bread, known as brötchen. “And everybody else here (selling German food and items) just closed down, got sick or passed away. So there’s really nothing in our area anymore. We have to drive all the way to Atlanta or other places far away. So I decided, hey, let’s just jump in the water and go open a German grocery store here.”
Horning and her husband, Bryan, are both veterans of the U.S. Army, she having been recruited in Germany and serving a tour of duty at one point at Fort Benning. Today, the Phenix City resident is an associate broker with Keller Williams Realty River Cities, with military relocations and short sales among her specialties.
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“I never had a grocery store,” Horning said Friday, laughing. “I was a business owner before. In Germany, I had a pet store, was a financial adviser here, was a broker, a property manager, but not ever, ever a grocery store and/or café owner. It’s going to be brand new.”
She and her staff have been getting the space ready for German Food, Gifts & More for several weeks, with goodies to include coffees, chocolates, cookies, breads and meats. The gifts portion will include Oktoberfest items such as steins and other trinkets and knick-knacks, with more expensive cuckoo clocks a possibility at some point.
“I’m not a barista, so there’s not going to be a wide variety of coffees. There will be your breads and pastries,” including bread that is cut up with meat on it, Horning said of the cafe coming in February. “It will be a place you can just sit down and have a bite to eat. But not a restaurant. I don’t have a commercial kitchen.”
The location that Horning chose is close to downtown Columbus, making it a great spot for a business in a city that has plenty of active duty and retired military people, she said. The improvements that are being made in Phenix City and Columbus are icing on the cake, she said.
She will be receiving shipments to the business regularly, but as was the case on Friday, there also will be trips to the Atlanta metro area for needed food supplies.
“That’s why you have to go to Atlanta,” Horning said. “They’ve really got numerous bakeries up here, and butchers. You’ve just got to do a little bit of driving.”
Based on comments on the store’s Facebook page, with it already having had “sneak peek” occasions for customers to grab some items, the future appears to be bright for German Food, Gifts & More.
“Dude! I just had a laugenstangen and it tasted just like it did at the bakerei in schweinfurt! DEFINITELY coming back. Can't wait for the cafe side of the store to open up too!,” said Rich Fuller of the baked bread product typically shaped into a pretzel knot.
Said Petra Henderson of her meat and bread items: “Picked up my Jagdwurst, Leberkäse and Würstchen two weeks ago. Awesome customer service. Went to pick up my Brötchen today and some more goodies. I am glad we have a German store in our neighborhood!!!!”