A Tavern with History
The building was built in 1851 by his first host Heinrich Althoff and opened under the name “Zur Waldschänke”. His initials H and A can still be seen above the entrance door. When Althoff died in 1885, an innkeeper named Kessler took over the restaurant. Kessler led it until 1909, when Mr. G. Mannebach bought the house. However, he disappeared during night time to the US. As a result, the building on Lerbach’s Kutschweg went to the later mayor of Bergisch Gladbach, Johann Odenthal.
The von Siemens/Zanders Family
The paper manufacturer Richard Zanders and his wife Anna von Siemens let the Munich architect Gabriel Seidl build today’s Lerbach Castle and move into it in 1900, after which the Zanders couple gradually bought up all plots of land around Lerbach and brought together a property of 1,476 acres. However, the adjacent restaurant remained unsaleable. Mayor Odenthal did not let himself be softened and had the impertinence towards the Zanders to sell the house to Bernhard Schwäke in 1918, after seven years of tenancy.
The Schwäke Family takes over the Tavern
Bernhard Schwäke was born in 1881 in Aurich, East Frisia, and, as a trained church furniture carpenter, also came to Bensberg on his journey. Here he worked as a carpenter in the company Dahlen and after work, he waited in the “Kaiser’sch Baach” on Gladbacher Straße. In 1911 he leased the restaurant “Zur Waldschenke” together with his wife Maria on the then narrow and unpaved Lerbacher Kutschweg, today’s Ommerbornstraße.
An Icon takes over
The daughter of the Schwäke couple, who, like her mother was named Maria, took over the restaurant from her parents in 1948. During Maria’s time, the place became more and more popular, due to her open nature. But also the familiar atmosphere in the restaurant with its two rooms, with a small bar and a total of seven tables, welcomed guests. Everyone knew everyone and foreign guests were skeptically eyed and carefully questioned. It was not unusual for guests to draw their own beer and add up the lines on the coaster themselves. The radio button was also pushed around as required. Maria Schwäke and her dachshund Whiskey were uncomplicated. The door was also open on the day of rest. Over the years the small tavern became an integral part of Sand and became “Us Kneip” (our tavern) for the Sander population. The landlady who was known for wearing an apron and cardigan was affectionately called “Mariechen”. The latter, in turn, titled their guests “their Jecken, do”, which was no less heartily meant. Maria Schwäke ran the tavern with the help of her sister-in-law Anni Schwäke and her nephew Bernd Schwäke until her death in 1992. In addition, Maria is still part of many stories, that are told by the older generation of Bergisch Gladbach.
Today’s generation of the Schwäke Family
After the takeover of Bernd Schwäke in 1992, the tavern was extended for the first time. After the extension was completed in 1993, the restaurant reopened with the christening of Bernd and Angelika Schwäke’s daughter. The tenant Holger Bauer, who ran the restaurant successfully until 2017, took over the business. Due to a fire in the kitchen, the restaurant had to close for several months. Even before the fire, Anni Schwäke’s adjoining former house was rebuilt to add two guest rooms to the restaurant. Nowadays, the restaurant can comfortably seat about 120 guests, in which previously only seven tables could be seated. From 23 March 2018 Dominik Eßer, who had been active for years as a chef in the Gasthaus Schwäke, took on the role of tenant. The service-team around Simone and Holger Bauer remains and Dominik continues to work as a chef in the restaurant. In addition, the building has been owned by the Schwäke family for 100 years this year.