The taste of Germany will return to downtown Tuscaloosa's Temerson Square this fall as Rolf's Deli & Sausages prepares to permanently close in Northport and relocate south of the Black Warrior.

In an interview with the Thread Monday, Rolf Meyer said he moved to Tuscaloosa to work at the Mercedes Benz U.S. International plant in 2013, and after his five-year visa for that purpose expired, he decided to pursue a lifelong dream of owning a deli.

It started in 2019, when Meyer bought and operated a popular food truck, and the next year he took a leap of faith to lease out and develop a brick-and-mortar deli off Highway 43 in Northport.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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He committed to the huge investment just in time for the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic to change everything about running a small business.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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In the three years since, Meyer has transformed the space and gradually added a cafe, a bar featuring German beers and European wines, a small music venue that hosts weekly open-mic nights and more.

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Even so, Meyer said traffic to his Northport eatery and venue is just not enough to keep him in business.

"It takes a long time for the customer to get here, my regular customers, and I just need more foot traffic to be able to pay my bills," Meyer said Monday. "That's kind of what I expect from the new place."

Meyer said by the end of October, he hopes to have shuttered the Northport location and opened in downtown Tuscaloosa, in the former home of Sage Juice Bar & Speakeasy and, before that, the Edelweiss Germany bakery.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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There, Meyer will continue to sell German fare including pretzels, sausages, waffles, sandwiches plus a lineup of desserts like Black Forest Cake. Pizza by the slice, chicken wings, soups of the day and other lunch-oriented options are also on the menu.

All the baked goods and sausages are hand-crafted on site, so Meyer knows and controls every ingredient and can take some specialty requests if patrons have special dietary needs.

"I see as my mission to give the people healthy food without any preservatives, without any artificial ingredients, as much as possible," Meyer said. "This is kind of what we do here. That's the reason why we make also all the practices and all the stuff ourselves here."

He said all the best parts of the Northport operation, including the cafe and bar, are expected to make the transition to Tuscaloosa and he hopes he can eventually add a hood vent, a grill and a deep fryer to the new space for pancakes, fried fish and other treats.

Next on Meyer's plate is the Kentuck Festival of the Arts this Saturday and Sunday, where he will set up a tent and try to sell out of the hundreds of pretzels he has shaped by hand this week.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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After that, it'll be time to start the move to Temerson Square in earnest. The Northport location will stay open until for a short while longer, but Meyer said he hopes to open in Tuscaloosa as closely as possible to November 1st and does not plan to have the two locations open at the same time much if at all.

"We want to open there as quickly as possible so we don't have a delay in generating revenue or getting exposure to people in Tuscaloosa," Meyer said. "We will be much, much closer to the University of Alabama and all the downtown businesses - this is kind of what I count on."

The open mic night will return every Thursday in Temerson Square, where Meyer said he's still likely to break out his own accordion or guitar and join people in singing and playing.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
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"Come as a guest, leave as a friend," Meyer said. "That's our motto here and we try to really live it, so we hope people will come to see us at Kentuck this weekend and come by the new space after our move is complete."

For more exclusive updates from the restaurant and retail development beat in west Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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