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 wife Kelly, daughter Charlotte, and 3 sons Andrew, Lukas and Benjamin.
CHEF vAlentin Bay
Valentin has been cooking German food since he was a young kid growing up in southern Germany just an hour outside of Stuttgart, Germany. Here he would watch his parents and grandma preparing and preserving the seasonal harvest and treating the family with all the local specialties. Working in traditional restaurants in Bavaria and Berlin and later learning about the American palate after coming to the US in 2011 to further prepare him to lead the kitchen at Brauhaus Schmitz. Becoming friends with opening chef Jeremy Nolen paved the way to taking over the culinary responsibilities in January 2018. Bay focuses on authenticity and seasonality, and with his team he will bring rustic and bold German cuisine to the Brauhaus tables.