Alpenland is sold, to retain character
By REBECCA MAR
Mercer Island Reporter Staff Writer
May 29, 2012 · 9:16 AM
Alpenland Delicatessen has been sold. The new owners, Chris and Dianne Masaoka, will take over the restaurant on June 4. They plan to keep everything the same, from the menu to the European imports and the nutcrackers.
“We’re delighted, absolutely delighted,” said Linda Gadola, who has owned Alpenland for nearly 15 years. The new owners, she said, have experience. “They are qualified, and we think they’ll do a great job. We know that they’re nice people, and that’s what we wanted for our customers. The main thing is, we were hoping to find someone who would continue to keep it as it is.”
Chris Masaoka’s grandparents, Carl and Gertie Krautheim, were the founders of Oh! Chocolate, another distinguished Island establishment, in 1986. Carl was German — a tie-in with Alpenland, Gadola said. Chris’s mother and aunt now run the chocolate shop, which has other locations in Madison Park and Bellevue Square. Dianne helped with purchasing, payroll and bookkeeping.
Alpenland, which opened in 1974, went up for sale for the second time in August 2011, when Toni and Linda Gadola decided to retire because of Toni’s health. But, just as the owners before them, they will be slowly transitioning out. They will help the Masaokas settle in and “learn the ropes for awhile,” Linda said. The original owners, in fact — Katrin and Gunter Bonnofsky — stayed on as employees after selling to the Gadolas, and only just retired last month.
The Masaokas are previous customers of Alpenland, where they have many memories of meeting Chris’s great-aunt Trudy for lunch. The veal loaf sandwich is Dianne’s favorite, with a cup of soup. Her two boys prefer the French dip. Now, Chris — who has worked in commercial kitchens, and developed new flavors and products for Oh! Chocolate — is learning new recipes and techniques from Toni. He also continues to teach chocolate-making classes at the Madison Park Oh! Chocolate.
The couple resides in Bellevue and is originally from Los Angeles. They moved to Washington nine years ago.
“Chris and I both really enjoy small business,” Dianne said. “We like being involved in family-owned business, and we just feel very privileged in working with Linda and Toni.”
But what Islanders will really want to know is: Will truffles from Oh! Chocolate one day be available at Alpenland?
That hasn’t been considered yet, Dianne said.
“Our plans right now are to keep the menu the same, and continue offering the Swiss and German products that our customers have come to rely on purchasing there,” she said.
Contact Mercer Island Reporter Staff Writer Rebecca Mar at email@example.com or (206) 232-1215.