Once a month, C Magazine sits down with a prominent Columbus figure. We let George Schmidt, founder of Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, give this month’s Final Word. One of his six children, Geoff, conducted the interview, and through the father-son conversation we learned why it is that everything this patriarch touches turns to gold.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from owning one of Columbus’ crown restaurants? I’ve learned that you’ve got to gain the trust of the people who come in the restaurant in order to keep them coming back as often as they do and for them to tell other people what a great place it is to eat. You can’t buy word of mouth.
If not a restaurateur, what would your dream job be? I think I’d like to be an architect. I’ve fooled around with building models all my life, and I just like that.
Describe Columbus in a few words. A fun place to live.
What do you order when you eat at Schmidt’s? I order the Bahama Mama, and the potato soup is one of my big favorites.
What’s your favorite flavor cream puff?
I like the vanilla—the original—cream puff.
Why do you think Schmidt’s has been so successful? Well, we’ve given the public what they like at a reasonable price. The building is also an historical landmark. A lot of fun people come and they just seem to let their hair down and have a lot of fun. It’s unique food—it sure is—and nobody else has brats and Bahamas like we do—and cream puffs.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Marco Island. We had a condo right on the Gulf of Mexico, and the whole family enjoyed it, so I think that would be my favorite spot.
What makes you get out of bed? The challenge of a new day.
Are you a good cook? Well, I’m not a good cook—I’m good at grilling. My wife is the best cook in the family.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? My family. They are a great six kids. They’ve worked with me throughout my career since I first opened. They just kind of stepped right in helping, bussing, cooking—they did everything. And they’re still working, all six, and that represents the fourth generation of the family. And the fifth generation is coming up, a couple of grand kids are now working.
What should people spend more time doing? Eating out more often at restaurants [laughs]. Restaurants are a vital part of the Columbus area.
What are you afraid of? Nothing!
Favorite sport’s team? The Buckeyes.
What do you want people to know about George Schmidt? That I’m an honest, hardworking restaurateur in German Village—and a good father and husband.
What are your vices? My wife says I have none!