Doug & Kelly Hager
As the owner of Philadelphia’s best authentic German restaurant and beer hall, Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South Street, 267-909-8814) and Wursthaus Schmitz, a German delicatessen and sandwich shop in Reading Terminal Market, Douglas Hager has transformed the way that Philadelphians look at German food and drink. Drawing on his own heritage (born in Aschaffenburg, Germany to native mother and his father, there on duty in the U.S. Army), Hager works closely with his wife, Kelly (nee Schmitz), and their Executive Chef, Jeremy Nolen, to modernize classic Teutonic fare for a contemporary audience as well as give Philadelphians a taste of some of the best brews Germany has to offer.
Philadelphia magazine has honored Brauhaus Schmitz with three “Best of” titles in their annual “Best of Philly” issues, and The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan wrote that “[Brauhaus Schmitz delivers] the satisfaction of Philly’s German tradition come alive again.” Open since 2009, the restaurant has revived the city’s love affair with its ethnic heritage and reintroduced a whole generation of Philadelphians to the foods of their forefathers. In addition, Hager is the owner of Wursthaus Schmitz in historic Reading Terminal Market, a sandwich and cured meats shop that specializes in made-to-order dishes and German-style products for sale by the pound. Wursthaus debuted in late 2012 and is already a staple among the market’s popular food stalls.
To complement the much-lauded food at Brauhaus, Hager continues to grow its outstanding beer list. By cultivating close relationship with brewers during his visits to Germany, Hager procures 29 of his 30 taps from there, many of which he pours exclusively among the city, state and even the country. Most of his 100-bottle list is also imported from Germany.
Prior to opening Brauhaus Schmitz, Hager gained much of his industry experience while working at Philadelphia’s Ludwig’s Garten, a now-defunct German food and drink outpost. Under the tutelage of one of Philly’s original beer geeks, George St. Louis, Hager developed an obsession for German beer and its thousand-year history. His passion for German brewing culture was furthered during a two-year hiatus in Germany, where Hager and his wife worked in various restaurant and biergartens in Cologne.Upon returning to Philadelphia and Ludwig’s Garten in 2006 the couple decided to begin plans for their own German bierhall. Brauhaus Schmitz opened in June 2009 and has seen continued success and growth leading to the recent expansion of the dining room as well as opening of Wursthaus Schmitz. Today, Hager resides in Haddonfield, NJ with Kelly and their son Andrew.
Chef Jeremy Nolen
Jeremy’s deep-seeded interest in food stems from his family. Father Ron Nolen was an acclaimed chef in the Reading, Allentown/Bethlehem area in Pennsylvania. Chef Ron imparted his love of artisan charcuterie and hand crafted foods to his son at a young age. Family trips to Europe enhanced Jeremy’s palette and wanderlust. The Nolen’s went beyond the typical American tourist family to discover cuisine by seeking out off-the-beaten-path ethnic neighborhoods and their butcher and specialty shops with meats salted, smoked, and cured in traditional ways. Today, Jeremy and Ron enjoy making sausages and cheeses, smoking meats, baking bread and brewing beer.At 23 Jeremy presided over the kitchen of Liederkranz, a private German club with a full service restaurant in Reading and gained his chops running the kitchen and creating a truly German-inspired menu. Traditional German food came natural growing up in Reading. Having been a member of the club for years and also attending the annual Oktoberfest every year since he was a child, it came as second nature to reproduce the foods that he grew up with and enjoyed time and time again. Next, Jeremy anchored the Speckled Hen, the English gastro-pub in Reading. From 2003 until 2006, Jeremy was the executive chef at the Crown Plaza, Allentown, and the Gateway Conference Center in Bethlehem, PA. Searching out new turf, Jeremy came to Philadelphia and worked at Bridget Foys until landing the sous chef position and opening 707 Restaurant and Bar, and Chef de Cuisine at Coquette.Jeremy is a great addition to our team, and is going to bring his passion and expertise of German cooking to add to the overall experience and authenticity of Brauhaus Schmitz.