SF’s Lehr’s German Specialties to reopen under new ownership

by admin

After nearly 50 years as San Francisco’s hub for one-of-a-kind sausages, jams, chocolates and other imported treats from Deutschland, the announcement of Lehr’s German Specialties’ abrupt closure in August didn’t sit right with Hannah Seyfert, one of the shop’s loyal customers. 

Seyfert, who moved from Germany to San Francisco in 2016, frequented Lehr’s for a taste of “heimat,” or home, finding comfort in familiar items such as fruit teas, sauerkraut and jagdwurst, a cooked sausage made from finely ground pork that can be sliced for lunch meat. 

So Seyfert called the shop’s proprietor, Brigitte Lehr, and after the two spoke over the phone, and again in person, Seyfert ended up purchasing the Noe Valley store on Sept. 10. It’s scheduled to reopen in mid-November, just in time for the holiday season.

Hannah Seyfert, left, recently purchased Lehr’s German Specialties from Brigitte Lehr, center. The two are pictured with longtime Lehr’s employee Ingrid, who worked for the store for 18 years. 

Courtesy of Hannah Seyfert

“She got really excited about the idea of someone continuing the business. It was very clear that I wanted to keep the name, keep the location,” Seyfert said. “For me, as a German, it’s really important for me to represent my country in a city that I love so much.”

As Seyfert started the beautification of the store’s interior, which includes fresh coats of paint and new flooring, she said she purposely left the doors open so that residents walking could peek inside and introduce themselves. Seyfert also scribed a number of handwritten signs on the store’s windows letting the neighborhood know that Lehr’s is “still your go-to place for German specialties” and to follow its Instagram page for updates. 

Almost instantly, she said, residents stopped by Lehr’s to thank her for keeping the little specialty shop open. They described the neighborhood as “Little Germany,” especially during the 1960s and ’70s with butchers, bakeries and restaurants such as Speckmann’s catering to locals.

“I’m honestly pretty honored to be able to continue that legacy. It means so much to so many people, and customers were coming from Sacramento, from Lake Tahoe, like from everywhere,” Seyfert said. “[Brigitte] told me that she even got recognized in Frankfurt at the airport by people she’s never seen before. So she’s a legend.”

Lehrs German Specialties will make its return just in time for the holiday season.

Lehrs German Specialties will make its return just in time for the holiday season.


Courtesy of S. Utting

Lehrs German Specialties is scheduled to reopen this November. 

Lehrs German Specialties is scheduled to reopen this November. 


Courtesy of S. Utting


Lehr’s German Specialties is scheduled to reopen this November. (Courtesy of S. Utting)

According to Seyfert, Lehr’s reason for retiring after nearly 50 years was due to loss of vision. Lehr has kept the store running since the mid-1970s when she took over the German specialty store with her late husband. The store was founded in 1953 by Hans Speckmann, known as the man behind Speckmann’s, a former German deli and bierstube on Church Street. 

With the upcoming grand reopening approaching in November, Seyfert said customers can expect a lot of the same familiar comforts and some new additions from local companies that specialize in German recipes such as Melo Bread, a mother-and-son duo that mostly caters to home deliveries and also sells at farmers markets in the Bay Area. 

Lehrs German Specialties is scheduled to reopen this November. 

Lehrs German Specialties is scheduled to reopen this November. 

Courtesy of S. Utting

“Their bread is so good. The bread rolls are super good. I haven’t found any comparable, amazing bread rolls in the Bay Area,” she said. “They’re very close to what you get in Germany.”

There’s also Wurstmeister Benz, a family-run sausage maker from Copperopolis in the Sierra Nevada foothills known for its sausages, which are “super popular in the German community,” Seyfert said. 

“There’s so many different cultures in San Francisco, and I really want to show that German is more than just Oktoberfest,” she said. “There are so many really cool, small-batch, artisanal food startups in Germany that I want to support.”

Lehr's German Specialties was purchased by Hannah Seyfert, a former customer of the Noe Valley store.

Lehr’s German Specialties was purchased by Hannah Seyfert, a former customer of the Noe Valley store.

Courtesy of S. Utting

Such companies include Goldhelm Schokolade, which makes handmade chocolates and is not yet available in the U.S. Seyfert said she will also work with other German-owned food startups in the Bay Area that don’t have their own brick-and-mortar locations. If you visit the store’s website, Seyfert started a community wish list, where customers can pick the products they want to see sold once Lehr’s reopens this fall.

With such community buzz about the return of Lehr’s, Seyfert said she feels great pride in not only continuing the store’s legacy but keeping the shop open for others to find their own taste of “heimat” in San Francisco.

“The neighbors are amazing. Most of them have been around for 15, 20, 40 years, and they grew up in that store. I talked to a neighbor; her name is Janet. She’s really, really sweet. She told me she always stopped by the store when she was a kid, and she bought chocolates from Brigitte, and she has so many memories with that store,” she said. “For me, hearing all those stories, it’s just really rewarding because of all of the neighbors who are stopping in and saying, ‘Thank you for continuing that. Thanks for not letting it become a new Starbucks.’”

Coming soon: Lehr’s German Specialties, 1581 Church St., San Francisco. Reopening is scheduled for mid-November. Follow Lehr’s Instagram page for updates.

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