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The Case of the Walking Bratwurst Restaurant

Germany is apparently filling up with a new sort of street food vendor: the type who carries his kitchen on his back. Why the rugged approach? It's a case of bad regulation giving way to some pretty serious innovation.

Germany is known for both its innovative engineering and its sausages, so the technical leap could seem almost inevitable. But it was the high hurdles put up by the city’s bureaucracy that fathered the invention of these unusual contraptions that are now as much a part of the city’s sights as the television tower in Alexanderplatz or the cathedral, outside of which Grillwalkers also hock their sausages.

After losing his job in hotel management in 1997, Bertram Rohloff wanted to open a stand to sell sandwiches but found he could not get the necessary permits to set up shop. So instead he envisaged an evolution in food-preparation technology, a step beyond the rolling hot-dog cart, because without the necessary permits, neither the grill nor the sausages could touch the ground.

“You couldn’t get an A-1 location like Alexanderplatz for all the money in the world,” Mr. Rohloff said in an interview recently in the company’s home base in the Friedrichshain neighborhood in the former eastern part of the city.

This is a Tyler Cowen topic if I've ever seen one. Meanwhile, I wonder if vendors in Washington couldn't do the same thing?

By Ezra Klein  |  September 24, 2009; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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Next: Score One for the Banks


do we have a photograph??

i wonder if he wears lederhosen and has a little, capuchin monkey on his shoulder, helping out with mustard and a gratuity jar?
i bet the aroma of a sizzling bratwurst on a frosty day must bring him many a pedestrian customer.
soon, there will be one on every streetcorner!!
and next thing.... strudel vendors!

Posted by: jkaren | September 24, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Hock their sausages? How much can you pawn a sausage for? And how are you going to hawk it if you've already hocked it?

Posted by: pj_camp | September 25, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

No lederhosen or animals, which I suspect would turn people away. The first time I saw one of these guys I thought: "Brilliant!"

Even better are the guys who have outfitted wheelchairs with grills. They are easier to move around as the city is fairly accessible in the new parts, carry more too.

The only thing I haven't seen is an electronic wheelchair, which would be the coup de grace, the ultimate mini-roach coach of sorts.

Posted by: Vigo | September 25, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure the bratwurst is just fine, but what you really want for a street snack is a good _curry_wurst--a hot-doggish sausage, sliced, covered with a ketchup-and-curry-powder sauce. Damn, that stuff is good.

Posted by: ckbryant | September 25, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

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