The Last Sausage Kiosk Before The Equator (Christine L)
Mr. Erich Sollbock worked in the industry as a certified chef for over 30 years. After his professional chef training in 1970s in Austria, he developed a great desire to explore the world. He worked on a luxury cruise liner. He then went back to Europe to enhance his culinary skills. Subsequent to which, he took on an Executive Chef position in China and Thailand. He also spent a couple of years in Malaysia and Indonesia before venturing into Singapore.
In Singapore, with its multi-cultural environment, Erich felt very comfortable since the first day he stepped on its soil. At first, he worked for the German Club as the Executive Chef, providing its members and Asian guests with authentic food from Germany and central Europe. After the German Club
closed its restaurant business in 2000, Erich worked in the German Centre and in a German Swiss Restaurant for a few years.
In 2004, he opened a “western hawker stall” in Chinatown. Erich then turned his idea of a sausage kiosk into a reality. Starting a business from scratch was a challenge for Erich. But he believes in his motto: “One of my mottos is: Happy hour all day and night long (because) every hour you are happy is a happy hour.”
He has been recognized by TV, press, travel guides, magazines and institutions. But the most memorable for him are the customers. For Erich, the interaction with people on a daily basis is by far, the biggest reward.
“We Have Something Unique in Place.” – Erich Sollbock
“Welcome to Chinatown!” A cheery man greeted. His upbeat attitude was infectious. It was Mr. Erich Sollbock, the owner of Erich’s Wuerstelstand — the last sausage kiosk before the equator.
Erich has been in Singapore for 11 years and two months. He began his sausage kiosk in November 2004.
What prompted him to start a food stall in the middle of Chinatown? Erich answers: “[People talk about] how they enjoy the sausage kiosk in Europe.” So he started one.
To “set the concept into motion” was no easy feat. So asked what were the drawbacks? Erich replies, “Every single day is a challenge, where you learn, where you do things.”
When he first started here, he was not familiar with the place, or the culture, yet, “when I stepped in here I was very confident and very comfortable.” So, with his positive disposition, he declares, “If something comes up, we’re going to solve it.”
His greatest satisfaction lies in serving the customers: “If you have people, whom you don’t know, coming by buying something which they are not very familiar with…. But after a while, maybe six months or longer down the road, they actually come back, remember what they have bought and they buy it again, they find it again. They have the same quality, they are happy again like before, that’s why they came back… The other part is seeing how you got involved in the community. How you lived your life daily on the road, on a hawker stall, people walking by, people having different moods, objectives and agendas as they are walking by…”
On his customers, he shares: “The select type of customer who usually comes back… is the one who feels most entertained with my service. The eating is one part and the entertainment and interaction with people is another part.”
Indeed, interacting with Erich is a treat by itself.
Initially, Erich had a smaller area for his customers. After noticing that his rented space was too small, he took another step so as to serve a wider base of customers. He also took a step further by opening another kiosk which bakes muffins and fresh bread, among others.
“To manage two places at the same time is impossible.” One can only go so far as to provide the concept, the idea and inspire the people who will run the place. “I know what I want to do, I know how it can be done,” Now all Erich needs to do is “to get people to be involved by helping me…. Without teamwork, one man show cannot do.”
Asked if he has had famous people dropping by his kiosk, Erich mused on the subject. “Being famous is interesting…” Since the media picked up on his sausage stall, he has become famous. “But I’m not famous,” He maintains. “For me, every person is famous in his kind.” But apparently, some are more famous than others. However, he is not going to drop names as he respects these people for their privacy.
Erich’s plans include “taking his kiosk to all these far, far away places.” Far away places, you might wonder. “For me Changi is already a very far point!” he says with a laugh. “The plans…. I see first that I can anchor in the place where I’ve been.” He says that he needs a sustainable business and a sustainable background before expanding his business.
Erich shares why he got into cooking… “For a young man in Austria to pick up cooking… well, it’s a very interesting question… At the time when I grew up, it was more common that people venture into industries like technical, mechanics, engineering… that was very popular….” He, however was more interested with working with food, “It is very interesting to work with the food – to put things together. At the same time, you always have something to eat.”
And work with food he did… which is a lucky twist for Singaporeans and tourists alike.
This blog is about real life stories, happenings, gossip, ramblings and events at the Wuerstelstand, the Chinatown Night Market, Singapore and the rest of the world. Besides Erich's ventures we also want to introduce Singapore as a beautiful and interesting tourist spot and a great place to live and work. Many tourists or expats who have been here are now our frequent blog visitors to check what they miss out since they left. Feel free to participate in our Wuerstelstand community. Send us ideas for new posts or photos. Comments can be posted below each post. Your Editor at Large: Frank N. Furter