German Traditions Continue
Zorn, Phyllis J. "German Traditions Continue." Hays Daily News, 22 September 2002.
--- Sam Brungardt, St. Paul, Minnesota (email@example.com)
Warren Wittman's interest in keeping alive the German traditions of the Hays area motivated him to learn to make German sausages years ago.
Wittman worked in the meat and sausage business 39 years at several area stores. When the grocery store where the butcher and sausage-maker last worked changed owners and decided to stop selling German sausage, he hated to see the traditional sausages disappear from the shelves of local merchants.
For years, Wittman had toyed with the idea of opening his own meat shop, but he'd always pushed back the thought. There were plenty of meat markets around, he said.
That's no longer the case. Not only are there fewer meat markets, there no longer were any stores marketing German sausages.
About four months ago, Wittman happened to drive past the former Hanger Orthopedic building at 1010 E. 29th.
"I spotted this location one day for lease, and I said, bingo, a meat market," Wittman said.
He leased the building and set it up for business, installing coolers, freezers, service cases and floor drains. He put in a sausage stuffer, a smoker big enough to serve as a closet, a patty maker, a meat tenderizer, a meat saw, a slicer, a wrapper and a vacuum packing machine.
Then the work of getting the sausage ready began. Wittman spent recent evenings making a variety of sausages and preparing cuts of beef and pork to stock the service cases.
He made pork liver sausage, summer sausage, zitter, ring bologna, breakfast sausage in bulk and links, seasoned ground beef, country style sausage and beef sticks.
He sliced bacon and cottage bacon. He cut pork roasts, ground beef and pork, sliced pork chops and country ribs, T-bones, sirloins, arm steak, cube steak and ribeye.
He smoked turkey legs and chicken.
Finally the work was done - sort of. The coolers were stocked, the price tags affixed, the signs hung. The store was ready to open, and the work of waiting on customers, cutting to their order and restocking the coolers began.
At the grand opening Wednesday, business was brisk. It's no surprise that most of the faces of the customers so far look familiar.
"Some of them have followed me from one place to another for years," Wittman said.
They also have been anticipating the opening of Warren's Meat Market.
"These people have been waiting for three months for us to open up," Wittman said.
When customers at Sun Mart, where Wittman worked before, told him they missed and wanted German sausages, he was able to tell them for the last three months that he would be able to offer them again when he opened his own store.
Eventually, Warren's Meat Market will offer other varieties of sausages, Wittman said.
Right now he's focused on the German variety sausages that he expects to make up the bulk of his specialty sales. By November he'll offer Swedish potato sausage, he said. Eventually, he'll have homemade Italian sausage and chorizo.
"My customers say I should have done this years ago," Wittman said. "This is a German community. We've gotten a lot of other nationalities over the years, but it is traditionally a German community."
Wittman's family members have been helping with the business. Daughter Kelly Kuhn, Colwich, has been assisting the last few days. Daughter Lori Lane, Great Bend, son Curtus Wittman, and wife Arlene Wittman are pitching in as they can.
Reprinted with permission of The Hays Daily News.