One employee knows them all, the rich, the beautiful, and the spoiled, but also the totally normal customers from the neighborhoods of Haidhausen and Lehel; they’re still around, too. Hans-Georg Stabi started at Käfer 25 years ago, and today hardly anyone in his line of work knows as much about fine fish as he does. Staib, a stocky, friendly Swabian who has a lot of fun with his customers, seems cheerful these days. Among other reasons, this is because sales of the wild catch from the French Atlantic coast and particularly of caviar, are going exceedingly well. “People buy caviar like crazy before Christmas – we had to reorder.” With great pleasure, Staib opens the largest available can of the Osciera Imperal, a brand of Iranian caviar that costs 4,386 Euro according to the scale. There are people, he says, who buy such a can to eat at home, “for this, you only need a couple of good friends.” He sweeps a mother-of-pearl spoon over the black eggs and offers them to a regular customer – “this is what we call the 50 Euro spoonful,” he says. “Why should you be ashamed of gorging on caviar? The people who can’t afford it don’t see it anyway.” The days when wealthy customers exercised culinary understatement out of solidarity with Aldi* regulars are over. Thank god things are getting better again.”
This is also the view of the boss, whose office includes a painting of the immortal James Dean. Michael Käfer has made it. He’s the master of a legendary Oktoberfest tent and the once famous P1 disco. As a party organizer, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Gerd Käfer, though he’s barely on speaking terms with him now. He sells a pile of licensed products and entertains guests not only in his Munich tavern, but also in his restaurant at the Berlin Reichstag, at the airport, and soon in the VIP lounges of soccer stadiums when the World Cup begins in 2006. Oh yes, and lately he’s been showing the sheikhs of Bharain how to really party. Käfer Jr. appears to be the opposite of Dallmayr chief Randlkofer, whom few recognize on the street. An expert familiar with both houses puts it this way: “At Käfer it’s the trappings that matter, at Dallmayr it’s the quality.” And a Munich society lady who buys no small amount from both concludes: “Dallmayr is the dark Rolls Royce, Käfer the red Ferrari.”
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*Aldi is a popular discount grocery store chain based in Germany – eds.
Source: Christian Mayer, “Dallmayr und Käfer – wie Rolls Royce und Ferrari” [“Dallmayr and Käfer – like Rolls Royce and Ferrari”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 23, 2004.
Translation: Thomas Dunlap