Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cafe Mozart/German Deli celebrates 25th year

When our Nation commemorated the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 2006, Max and Hildegard Fehr and business partner Farooq Ahmad would celebrate the 25th anniversary of their german deli, konditorei cafe, restaurant and bar known as Cafe Mozart.

Located at 1331 H Street, NW, in downtown Washington DC Cafe Mozart, Cafe Amadeus & German Deli first opened its doors in July 1981 operating, also, as the cafeteria for the University of the District of Columbia until shortly, thereafter, the UDC would relocate to 4200 Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street. Before taking over the operation of the UDC cafeteria at 1331 H Street, Max and Hildegard Fehr had owned and operated the Annapolis Cafe and German Deli on 11th Street between New York Avenue and H Street in what for many years had been the Greyhound Bus Terminal.

Whereas, the main entrance was located on the north side of the terminal, at 1100 New York Avenue, it was at the east side of the building at the corner of 11th Street and New York Avenue that, in 1964, the Fehrs would purchase an already existing deli that had been in operation since 1932.

My first visit to the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Washington DC would be some 40 years later when as a high school senior I would catch the Greyhound bus from Southern Maryland, in the fall of 1972, to meet with friends from Southern Maryland who were then attending the University of Maryland in College Park and lived in the Riverdale area. At first, after meeting me at the main entrance of the Greyhound Bus Terminal at 1100 New York Avenue, on Friday evenings, we would head out to the gay bars along 9th Street and, perhaps, later that night venture down to the dance clubs in SW and SE WDC. However, once I knew my way around, I'd catch the Greyhound bus from Southern Maryland to the 1100 New York Avenue terminal in WDC and would then transfer to a Greyhound bus bounded for Baltimore but, along the way would stop off in Baltimore, which is where I'd meet up with Tom Wiley and other friends who lived or sometimes stayed in Riverdale. More than likely we would go to bars on 9th Street on Friday night. And to the Pier 9 on Saturday night. And after an afternoon cruise through Georgetown on Sunday or an early tea dance on Sunday evening they'd drop me off at the Greyhound Bus Terminal at 1100 New York Avenue for my return trip back to Southern Maryland.

So, there must have been many a time that I passed by or, perhaps, visited the Annapolis German Deli. Perhaps, as had my grandmother, Violet Briscoe, who for many years before had caught the Greyhound bus from the farm that she and my grandfather, Walter Briscoe, owned along St. Jeromes Neck Road in Dameron Maryland ... to Washington DC ... to work as a maid in the home of Mrs. Corsel who lived on Corcoran Street in NW. Long before my weekend trips to WDC Big Mama had told of how she "had to ride in the back of the bus!". However, when, in the fall of 1972, I would inform her that I would be visiting friends in College Park, over the weekend, most who were white, she'd warn me "You be care! I know you think that they're your friends but, they'll take or get you somewhere, and by the time you realize what they've done, it will be too late ...!".

While I can not now remember when the Greyhound Bus terminal would relocate from 1100 New York Avenue to First and L Streets, in NE, I do remember that it was shortly after my February 1982 relocation back to WDC from NYC that I'd realize the Greyhound Bus Terminal was no longer at 1100 New York Avenue. According the Art Deco Society of Washington DC the building was modernized in 1976.

Hildegard, who was born in Vienna, Austria would move to America in 1956 or 1958. And having known each other long before, shortly thereafter, Max Fehr from Switzerland, would join her. While I do not have much information pertaining to their life history in a brief telephone interview with their business partner and manager, Farooq Ahmad, I would learn that it was in 1964 that Max and Hildegard Fehr would take over the operation of the german deli located at the northeast corner of the Greyhound Bus Terminal naming it Annapolis Cafe and Geman Deli.

When the lease would expire in 1981 they would relocate to 1331 H Street where for a short period of time thjey would provide cafeteria services to the University of the District of Columbia. When UDC would relocate to its current Van Ness Campus, Max and Hildegard Fehr would renovate the space and reopen it as Cafe Mozart, Cafe Amadeus & German Deli.

Though I have passed by and noticed Cafe Mozart many times, over the years, and on, at least, one occasion had stopped in at the deli it was on Wednesday evening, 16 August 2006, and when engaging in night photography and, perhaps, looking for a different place to eat that I would dine at Cafe Mozart. And learn of its rich history. Moments before I had taken several pictures of almost completed 1101 New York Avenue which I have focused on since the fall of 2004 and the former Greyhound Bus Terminal at 1100 New York Avenue where and in connection with my ongoing windows project I would take several shots of the windows at what is now Cort Furniture.

Heading west on H Street, observing that the German Deli was still open and thinking that I may would be able get a deli sandwich I'd step inside. Where taped to the glass door I'd observe a sign that read Playing Tonight Miss Shuree 6-10 PM. When I'd inquire of the man at the deli register if Miss Shuree was then performing and would ask if I may photopgraph her, in connection with my ongoing Musicians theme, he said that she was then on break. But, that she would resume playing in a few minutes. It was then that I'drealize that Cafe Mozart was much more than just a deli or pastry shop.

As you walk through the front door, on the left is a deli while to the right is pastry shop and konditorei cafe with several tables for seating. The gentleman would direct me to the rear where I'd observe not only a second but also a third room. The second and third rooms were seperated by two woodend doors with glass panes, permitting me to see into the third room.

I'd walk back into the second area where to the left was a bar with several patrons and a bartender in conversation. To the right of the bar, in the second room, was a seating area consisting of several empty tables. When I'd inquire of the bartender where I may dine and listen to the pianist, he'd direct me through the wooden doors and into the third room.

Where I'd find two parties of patrons dining. A group of four or five was nearest to the door on the left while an older couple was positioned directly behind them, in the center of the room and also on the left. The bartender would direct me to a table in the center of the room, just in side of the door. And directly in front of, and to the right of, the piano.

When the waitress would persent me with a menu I'd order a ginger ale with lime. When she would return with the ginger ale I'd order a Gazpacho Soup and the Bistro Chicken with Mixed Field Salad. And would then inquire of the waitress if I may photograph the pianist and my food. She said that it would be OK.

Shortly after placing the bread basket on the table, my gazpacho soup would arrive. The waitress was very efficient but not too intrusive. Attentive but not annoying. While I did enjoy Cafe Mozart's gazpacho soup I could not help but compare it to Franklin's gazpacho soup. And while I liked Cafe Mozart's, Franklin's had more of a tang and zest. On a scale of 0 - 5, I'd give the Cafe Mozart's gazpacho soup a 3.5 to 4. Franklin's gazpacho ranks 5.

While taking a few photos of Ms Shuree playing the piano my entree would arrive. Nicely displayed on the plate, the Bistro Chicken with a Mixed Field Salad would immediately catch my attention. As a caterer, I understand that food presentation is of great importance. On a scale of 0 -5, I'd rank the presentation of the entree at 5. Though when the plate would arrived I had thought that it would be more than I could eat once I began feasting on my entree I would finish the plate off. With the exception of the chicken bone. And enjoyed every bite. Preferring that my onions be raw or more adente I usually will not eat sauteed onions. However, on this occasion, the sauteed onions mixed in combination with the apple slices were quite tasty. And the mixed field salad garnished with carrots and tomatoes would finish my meal off. I'd rank my entree at 5. Priced moderately, the tab would come to $27.15. Leaving a $5 tip, my meal would come to $32.15. A bit more than I had planned on spending but certainly worth the fare.

And when considering that an evening at Cafe Mozart may also include classical musicians, it is a place that I would recommend. Particlularly to those who have a taste for German and Polish food. It has also participated in several wine tastings.

Located at 1331 H Street, in NW, Cafe Mozart is open until 10 PM, seven days a week. For breakfast, lunch or dinner. On Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 10 PM. On Saturday and holidays from 9am until 10 pm. On Sunday from 11 am until 10 PM. Telephone numbers 202-347-5732 and 202-347-5653. Fax at 202-347-4958.

Cafe Mozart, Cafe Amadeus & German Deli has operateed as a restaurant, bar and carry-out, a german deli and konditorei cafe for more than 25 years. Visit their website at Email at

Cafe Mozart is the kind place that Martha Stewart would appreciate and, perhaps, will visit when she visits WDC.

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