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G&W Sausage finding balance between neighborhood spot and big business

TOWER GROVE SOUTH – When you discuss “seeing how they make the sausage” at G&W Sausage Co. in the Tower Grove South neighborhood, it’s not a wisecrack. It’s something they take pride in.

A worker at G&W Sausage Co. guides a meat mixture out of the giant blender that chops and blends herbs into the meat, on Oct. 9, 2019. Photo by Bob Holt III/for MetroSTL.com
Pound by pound, they’ve been churning out German-style sausage here for more than half a century. They produce more than 50,000 pounds every year. That’s about one-third the weight of a Space Shuttle if you’re keeping score. Translation: a lot of meat.

The south city shop opened as G&W in 1965. Current co-owners, cousins Gerhard and Bob Wanninger, took over for their fathers, who brought the recipe from Bavaria.

“What happened is my dad moved from Germany,” Gerhard Wanninger said. “Right before he turned 19 he moved over here, and he started working at Kerim and company.  And that’s where he met the G, the Gummerscheimer, and they always talked about opening their own business.”

Workers at G&W Sausage move sausages to the smoking rack on Oct. 9, 2019. Photo by Bob Holt III/for MetroSTL.com
They opened a neighborhood meat shop, and it’s grown into a place where the beef jerky (known here as landjager)  goes to gas stations region-wide, and the sausage is served at restaurants across the region and even Busch Stadium.

“Our dads added on, and we’ve added on since,” Wanninger said. “The growth was over years of a lot of word-of-mouth advertising. When I started here there were only seven or eight of us.  Now we’ve got as many as twenty employees.”

Another thing that would seem easy to add around here is pounds.

“It’s hard to track,” the sausage maker said of his product consumption. “It’s easy to nibble here, nibble

G&W Sausage CO. is at 4828 Parker Ave. in St. Louis. Photo by Bob Holt III/for MetroSTL.com
there all day long. I’ve been doing it for 36-37 years now.”

Although the customer list has its corporate side, this is still very much a neighborhood spot.  The shop at 4828 Parker Ave. comes complete with the offer of an ice-cold beer to anyone (of age) who walks in the door.

“People enjoy the free beer,” Wanninger said. “It’s something my dad started. Customers love it. Just to get to know all the customers over the years.

“They’ve been coming in for years, and they’ve seen us grow, but outside, if I’m wearing G&W gear anywhere I go, people will come up to me. So, it’s kind of neat; no matter where I go I get it all the time.”

George Sells

george.sells@metrostlcom.wpcomstaging.com George Sells is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in news. He has spent the last decade on the St. Louis media scene, working for KTVI Fox 2, HEC Media, and more recently as a host for KMOX Radio. His wife of twenty years, Julie, was born and raised in St. Louis. They have two kids and a dog.

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