Elsie and Henry Baumann announced this week that they have sold their Mt. Auburn St. delicatessen and have retired to their Arlington home.
The sale comes in the wake of Elsie's recent heart attack which left her unable to work full time in the delicatessen. In an interview in Arlington, Elsie said that her doctor had said that she could continue to work a few hours a day as a supervisor but that the fast pace of serving customers would be extremely dangerous for her heart.
The new owners, Claudette and Phillip Markell, were personally selected by the Baumanns from a large number of carefully screened applicants.
In deciding which of the many offers for her store to accept, Elsie said that she had refused to consider any people who had shown signs of wanting to raise prices or change the store in any way.
Phil Markell says he plans to keep the store exactly the same, "from the name right down to the last apfelkeuchen."
Born in Nuremberg, the Baumanns came to this country in 1933 with their two young sons and four dollars. Speaking no English, they both worked long hours and saved to buy their own business.
In 1955 they bought the corner restaurant on Mt. Auburn St. "We worked hard," Elsie said, "and we always wanted to give the boys the best." The restaurant prospered, attracting customers from all the local colleges. Today Elsie's sells 1200 to 1500 roast beef sandwiches a day.
The secret of their success, Elsie says, was "hard work and heart, lots of both."
Asked what she plans to do now, Elsie replied: "Now we will be able to do all the things we never had time for, I will read, listen to Beethoven and Wagner, and live with the memories of my boys in Harvard Square."