Being that Ferrvor’s home office is located in Los Angeles, we enjoy covering some of our local hot spots, so if you’re reading this, next time you come to town and are craving to enjoy grilled sausages, consider adding this to your must try list. If you’re local to LA, but alien to The Arts District of Downtown, you likely haven’t experienced the giant paintings and murals on the buildings, or unorthodox, handmade objects on electricity posts. And for sure, you haven’t stumbled upon this local, go-to food spot to enjoy a flavorful pallet of unique grilled sausages and community gathering.
Story By: Nico Triunfante
Media By: Wurstküche, Paul Sun, Dylan Ho, Everett Fenton, Nathalie Kossek
Let’s get a taste of Wurstküche. Founders Joseph Pitruzzelli and Tyler Wilson, transformed this once 3-story brothel and printing press into a Downtown LA hot spot. Through trial and error, they marked out pizza and burger joints, and raised the bar to transform the common street hot dog, to an exotic-worldwide sausage neighborhood spot to indulge in a great time with food, booze, and conversation. In fact, locals believe that during this time of Downtown LA’s growth surge, Wurstküche has become a key catalyst that has inspired development in The Arts District and surrounding areas. And since it’s opening, the owners have opened locations in Venice Beach, California (2011), and Denver, Colorado.
Luckily, Tyler was in town and the Ferrvor team got a chance to indulge in a couple of Wurstküche’s best sausages and cold beverages and a little conversation.
To get things started, Wurstküche is a difficult name to pronounce. What’s the correct pronunciation of your restaurant, and what’s the worse that you’ve heard thus far?
Tyler Wilson: This is the most common question that I get. And Wurstküche (Verst-Koo-Shah) is “sausage kitchen.” There was an amazing YouTube video made of about 50 different people saying it from totally incorrectly to perfectly to progressively better. The worst I’ve heard it, and also the best, is “Worst Cooch.”
At Ferrvor, we love backstories and humble beginnings. How did you get your path started to create Wurstküche?
TW: The idea of Wurstküche started in 2007 when my cousin Joseph shut down his design firm in San Francisco, and moved into my college apartment on 30th Street and Hoover, right next to USC, and moved in on the ground of the apartment so we could pursue opening a bar together. We set out to open an awesome little bar that evolved into what Wurstküche is today, which is a beer hall and exotic sausage grill.
Let’s take away the menu for a second. What makes Wurstküche stand out from other popular weiner spots?
TW: What stands us apart is the experience that you have associated with the sausage, the beer and the community. When you walk into Wurstküche you should be greeted and welcomed in a way that most people in that segment of fun, casual restaurants, where there are destinations that you go for an experience that aren’t fine dining, where you can stay for two hours, have fun, or go to your birthday party. We’re this fun casual segment that you can go and have fun with your friends, stay for three hours, or you can come buy a sausage and beer for yourself then jam.
Sausages are essentially traced back to their roots in Germany. What then was your purpose of serving a variety of sausages originating from places like the Philippines and Louisiana, and including your exotic specialties such as rabbit, rattlesnake, or lamb?
TW: Sausages come from all over the world, and Germans are probably the most well-known for their sausages, but I would venture to guess that a vast majority of cultures that eat meat have been making sausages forever. We aren’t a German restaurant, although we take a lot of cues from the German culture and obviously our brand is very German. We are a sausage kitchen, and we produce what I believe to be the best sausages available.
What’s the biggest weiner you’ve ever made?
TW: I’ve made some 6-foot wieners. I was asked by one of my GM’s if we were interested in partnering with a brewery to make the world’s longest wurst, or sausage. I didn’t see the upside of trying to produce a 170-foot sausage to beat them. That’s just a lot of meat, and I wasn’t really interested in figuring out how to accomplish that.
The vibe is definitely chill and low profile. What inspired you to create the dimly lit, and somewhat secretive atmosphere for your locations?
TW: When you’re in a restaurant and with your friends and you’re having a celebration, or you’re getting together and having some beers and amazing food, and you’re sitting close together, you kind of just disappear in your own bubble in this restaurant of noise, and people, and conversations, and community. You can just have an awesome conversation that facilitates great things. That’s what we enjoy, and that’s what we set out to do where it’s loud. But if you’re looking at somebody you can hear what they’re saying, but you’re not really going to be able to hear the person next to you because they’re not looking at you. You should just be able to talk.
Wurstküche started in Downtown Los Angeles, and has added locations in Venice, California and Denver, Colorado. Any other cities come to mind where you’d want to establish another branch?
TW: Totally. Joseph and I have plans to grow to some of the great metropolitan areas of the country. We’re seriously interested in San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Nashville, and most recently, Chicago.
On your website there is a link to events, revealing your teaser phrase, “business as usual.” What successful events have you had in the past, or hope to have in the future?
TW: We don’t believe that we’re an events-driven restaurant. We want you to know what we’re doing every night of the week. We serve great sausages, amazing fries, the best beers out of Belgium and Germany. Some of the oldest, most delicious beers in the world. The heritage beers. These are the beers that a lot of American breweries inspire to make beers as good of. So as far as events go, we’ve done events around those things. But for the most part, it’s business as usual. Beers, sausage, fries, community.
We noticed you have a DJ set inside the restaurant. What kind of environment does Wurstküche turn into when someone is on the ones and twos?
TW: We aren’t trying to put on a performance for you when we have DJs in. But DJs that are able to read the crowd and see what’s going on, and bring the freshest music, keeping music updated and finding the “not for sale” music in the Indie/Electric category. They are all local DJs of the area.
For first timers, what would you suggest to be the perfect sausage, fries with dip, and brew combo?
TW: I push people to the exotics right away. If somebody comes in and I think that they will go for an exotic, I’m going to push them into the Rattlesnake & Rabbit. We’re selling more of the Rattlesnake & Rabbit than we are of anything else at the moment, which took over Bratwurst as our number one seller. Some people you can read right off the bat aren’t going to do it. They’re not comfortable making that choice, and I don’t’ want to push them into that. I say get the Bratwurst, you’re not going to find a better Bratwurst. Put some onions and sauerkraut on there, and next time, come back and get the Rattlesnake & Rabbit or Lamb sausage. I get fries, and I love our Chipotle Aioli. Our Chipotle Aioli with the dipping fries is off the charts. I wash that down with a Weihenstephaner Vitas because it’s deliciously refreshing and pretty strong.
What’s next for Wurstküche?
TW: Currently, we’re focusing on the three stores that we have. The plan is continue to open more stores as we’re able to save up and build another one.
With Oktoberfest coming up, what makes for a good Oktoberfest celebration the Wurstkuche Way?
TW: Wurstküche celebrates Oktoberfest everyday, on some level. Oktoberfest is great with people and community and that’s what I think makes it so fun. People having fun together, eating, drinking, and singing.
Why Rattlesnake & Rabbit? And how does one create this Rattlesnake & Rabbit combo?
TW: It’s the predator and prey is what it was inspired by. It’s fun to have something like a rattlesnake. It’s dubious. It’s like putting black widows with flies. Nobody would want that, but its fun to think about.
Wurstküche is located at 800 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013