Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe offers a German and European gourmet experience like no other.
Aiming to bring a piece of home to Arlington, owner Wolfgang Büchler continues to present his customers with the best baked goods after 48 years in business. Together with his Arlington-native wife, they fulfill that goal.
Located along Langston Boulevard, Heidelberg once occupied a location just down the street.
“The bakery itself opened in February of 1975, and we were down the street in the Lee Heights Shopping Center,” said Carla.
“My husband, Wolfgang, was the one who opened it originally, and then I came in September of 1975 and applied for a part-time job. So this is my first job and only job,” she said with a smile.
About 12 years after opening, they moved to their current storefront.
“In 1988, we moved to this location, and this is where we’ve been since then,” said Carla.
Starting by selling just breads, donuts, and cakes, the move down the street allowed them to expand their offerings. With more space and ambition, the pastry shop added a deli section, offering cold cuts, cheeses, and German wursts. The goal, as always, is to give customers a taste of Wolfgang’s hometown.
“He was raised in a suburb of Heidelberg, Germany,” Carla said of her husband. “Wolfgang completed two apprenticeships, one as a baker and one as a pastry chef, because they are two very distinct arts.”
Wolfgang came to America in 1969 and “worked for a German guy who had a pastry shop in Tysons,” Carla said.
Having grown up in Arlington nearly her entire life, Carla shares how she has seen Heidelberg Pastry impact the lives of those in the community.
“They come through the doors and are very overwhelmed and surprised because it is more than just a bakery, it’s bigger,” she said.
“Here we have donuts, breakfast pastries, breads, rolls, other pastries and deli items like sandwiches, and we even have different German grocery items in our store,” Carla added.
For those growing up on the northern side of Arlington, you may have fond memories of this place providing your family with specialized cakes for celebrations or baked goods for the holidays.
“I think it’s satisfying to have the customers feel as though they are family, and so many of our customers have been customers for more than 40 years,” said Carla. “You’re a part of people’s lives and see people get married, have babies, and when they graduate because we make cakes for them.”
Heidelberg has also been a destination for some homesick Germans in the D.C. area.
“Germans tend to always miss their bread first, so this is a perfect spot for them to come to… and during Christmas time, there are so many traditional German treats we have that your mom or grandma would make in Germany,” said Carla.
Despite its enduring popularity, the shop faced challenges during the pandemic.
“We sold items we don’t normally sell, such as eggs, milk, and butter. A lot of people bought yeast and flour because they couldn’t get it in the grocery store,” said Carla. “People were very supportive and would buy from us in particular because we were a small business.”
More recently, the challenge has been rising food costs and occasional shortages.
“There are a lot of things that are just hard to get right now,” said Wolfgang. “We have not increased the prices as we have been increased by wholesalers.”
“People don’t get how much we get charged,” he added. “Our eggs before COVID were $35 for 30 lbs, now it’s $142.”
“Three years later, you think everything should be back to normal, but it’s not,” says Clara.
The tough times only serve to showcase love this couple has for the community.
“We have our son working for us, and we certainly hope that he will one day take over,” says Carla. “I think that the relationship with our customers has tons more meaning than best breads or this or that… knowing that it’s actually real people running the business behind the counter and that it’s a family and that we are originally from Heidelberg.”
Nicholas Barahona is a freelance food writer who often posts his food reviews on Instagram.
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