German Restaurant Opening On E. Market

Joins Growing List Of Ethnic Eateries

Posted: October 3, 2012

Daniel Gissel and his brother, Denis, are opening a new German-style restaurant called Black Forest. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — A German restaurant is about to join Harrisonburg’s ever-swelling lineup of ethnic eateries.

Traditional German staples like schnitzels and bratwursts, plus popular European street foods such as döner kebab sandwiches will be on the menu at Black Forest.

The owners, brothers Daniel and Denis Gissel, hope to open the restaurant this week after several months of preparation, which included a complete build-out of the former Saigon Café in the Rolling Hills shopping center at 787 E. Market St.

“We all missed German food,” said Denis Gissel, 26, who moved to the U.S. five years ago with his wife on a student visa and now holds a green card. “Especially the döner kebab. It’s very popular in Germany and throughout Europe.”

Döner kebab sandwiches are served in freshly baked pita bread and topped with thinly sliced meat — usually lamb, beef or chicken — and topped with cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and sauces.

“It’s a healthy fast food,” said Daniel Gissel, 30, who learned the ins and outs of running a restaurant while working for a friend’s business in Germany.

The Gissels are from the Black Forest region of Germany in the southwestern corner of the country.

The increasingly diverse Harrisonburg is home to an abundance of ethnic restaurants, with dining spots serving up Thai, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Greek, Chinese and Italian dishes.

German food has been missing from that list — until now. The closest German-style restaurant was Edelweiss, about a half-hour south of Harrisonburg just outside of the Staunton city limits.

A German restaurant, the Gissels believe, fits right in with Harrisonburg’s growing taste for international food.

Customers at Black Forest won’t be overwhelmed with a long exotic menu, they said. Rather, the menu — written in English and German — will feature a more limited offering consisting of a few soups and salads plus sandwiches and main dishes.

“We always hate getting [a menu] that’s like a book,” Denis Gissel said. “We wanted to keep the menu small and the quality good.”

Contact Doug Manners at 574-6293 or


NDN Video News