SPOKANE, Wash. – The Alpine Deli has been in its current location on Third Avenue the past 25 years, selling imported sausages, European cheeses and all sorts of German groceries and gifts.
Werner and Carole Gaubinger have been in the business of selling European specialty items for 40 years, beginning in Missoula, Montana with the Haus of Salzburg. They moved west with their business with another gift shop on Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene and eventually to Spokane when they took over Hoerner’s Meats on North Division. After 25 years on Third Avenue, the two said it’s time to step away from the business to enjoy their retirement.
The inspiration for their business came from Werner Gaubinger's grandparents who were store owners in Austria.
"One dates back to World War One as the Royal Troops went through and then another one about 20-some years later when the German army came through at the beginning of the war when Austria was taken over by Germany," said Gaubinger.
Gaubinger took on his mother's dream of running her own small business. It was a bed and breakfast in Salzburg, Austria. That is where love intervened when a young American woman caught his eye. Werner Gaubinger asked Carole to marry him and she said yes. The couple got married in Carole's hometown of Missoula and later moved there and opened their first European gift shop in 1971.
Werner Gaubinger said his longtime customers showed their loyalty in 2013 by braving major construction on Third Avenue in Spokane to get their German goods. And while Gaubinger admits, it was a challenge for his business, it was not the reason for their decision to retire. Their decision, he said, was a personal one that comes after 50 years of marriage.
As for the deli, the Gaubinger's said they have found a buyer who plans to keep the Alpine Deli name.
“They just need to go and continue and add a few things to revive it and bring a little bit new life into it, and that’s about it,” Werner Gaubinger said. “I hope that people will appreciate it and give the people who come a chance.”
If all goes as planned, the new owners will take over in the new year. It will be up to them to decide what they want to sell at the Alpine Deli, but the Gaubinger's said they will give the new owners all the purchasing information for the products they currently carry.
It was love that brought Werner Gaubinger to America but he also brought along with him a rich European tradition.