When my friends told me about Joseph’s gourmet sausage joint downtown and how it was packed from morning to night, needless to say I was surprised. A business packed 24/7 in this economy I thought, there had to be something special about what this guy was doing. In an effort to research the secret I headed down on a Tuesday around lunch to see what all the hype was about. I almost missed the non-descript building with big, wooden doors if it wasn’t for the beautifully designed red sign above that read, “Wurschutestche.”

I joined the line already formed outside and began to read the simply stated menu. Rattlesnake, Alligator and Sun Dried Tomato sausages begged my attention: a choice of two sides. Flip the menu and find over 35 Belgian and German beers to choose from. A very affordable price point, hand made family style picnic tables with brown parchment paper stretched across and a very good-looking Irish man behind the bar and I was starting to understand the draw.

Days later I contacted Joseph in hopes of speaking with him. In my mind I pictured a large, older German man probably bearded and full of stories of his homeland but instead I was surprised by a tall, slender 30 something with Euro style and a killer background in marketing and restaurant management. Probing for answers or insights into this place’s success I first ask him why he thinks they’re having so much success. He is calculated in his answer and articulate with his explanation. “There are a few reasons. We are hyper focused. We are reasonably priced for gourmet food and we provide an interesting and simple atmosphere.” Wow, I think, so simple.

Then he goes on to explain his wood working background and how they make all the furniture for the restaurant in a shop next door. He explains his love of German beers and all his “crazy, German friends.” He cracks a smile when he tells me his favorite thing about the restaurant, “We get an amazing cross section of people here. It’s like a melting pot. You get the business guys from downtown, sitting next to the art student who probably tagged their building last night. Then you get the older, German couples, the Asian population from Little Tokyo and an occasionally new born. I just love it.”

Joseph kindly walks me around that day of our interview, entertaining every question I have, sitting at every table I ask him to for his photograph and treating people to free beer who allow him to sit and interrupt there lunch. It isn’t hard to see why this place is packed everyday. Sure the sausages melt in your mouth and the 10.5% alcohol content of the Belgium beer doesn’t hurt but it’s in spending time with it’s creator that I begin to truly understand the magic. Joseph is kind and smart and hard working and has been interviewed a dizzying amount of times but still made me feel welcome and appreciated for being interested in his business. Before I leave he thanks me and leaves me with some great last words. “The smiles are different here. It’s a fun place.” Gratitude, I think to myself. It’s in the simple pleasures that we find the most happiness. Thank you Joseph for creating a place where we can be reminded of that.

Since Joseph opened Wurstkuche in 2008 he has since expanded and opened a second locaion in Venice, CA. His downtown location, which started in a small warehouse type space has grown to include a commissary kitchen and small coffee shop that he calls BLACKTOP. Joseph reported that it had been a bumpy but good 9 years since I interviewed him but, 'filled with great lessons.' Sounds like Joseph still has that grateful attitude, no matter what.

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About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.