Opened more than two centuries ago, L.W.C. Michelsen is Hamburg’s oldest delicatessen. Initially selling both basic and luxury foods, the firm later also operated a restaurant and contributed to the city’s rich gastronomic offerings for many decades. Today its speciality foods can be bought both in selected delicatessen stores and over the Internet.In 1814 L.W.C. Michelsen was founded as a »flour and vegetable trade« at Grosse Bleichen 10 in order to supply the distressed local population with the most essential foods following the withdrawal of the French occupation force. Three consecutive generations of the Michelsen family steadily refined the assortment until they could rightfully claim to be Hamburg’s leading delicatessen with its own import arm (e.g. for pineapples and bananas).
In 1899 the businessman Johannes Carl Peters acquired the business for a price of 10,000 gold marks and built it into one of Germany’s leading delicatessen. This status was reflected in royal warrants from the German Imperial Court in Berlin as well as from the Kings of Saxony and Württemberg and the Grand Dukes of Baden and Mecklenburg. Caviar was a much sought-after delicacy at the time. Peters offered his proprietary »Caviar Wodka« to go with it; this beverage continues to be sold today.
In 1910 Johannes Peters was able to acquire the commercial building at Grosse Bleichen 10 from the Michelsen family, which meant that he was now running his business within his own four walls. The next generation, represented by Alfred Peters and Johannes Peters II, expanded the business and opened the »Frühstücksstuben« restaurant, which quickly became a favourite among locals. In 1943 the building at Grosse Bleichen 10 was hit by an incendiary bomb during an allied bombing raid which claimed the lives of several employees. The premises at Jungfernstieg 41/42 also fell victim to allied bombing in July 1943.
After the end of WWII, the business in Grosse Bleichen recovered quickly and the »Frühstücksstuben« restaurant was re-installed next door at Grosse Bleichen 12/14. Five VW vans delivered the firm’s luxury foods to customers across Hamburg. Almost 50 employees looked after customers in the shop, the restaurant and the catering business.
In 1965 the next generation took the helm. Rainer Peters and his brother Heiko Johannes Peters successfully added a wholesale operation specialising in delicatessen, confectionary, honey, jams and baked goods. Today’s »Michelsen-Haus« at Grosse Bleichen 12/14 was acquired and a large 12,500 square metre industrial complex in the Elbbrücken area was bought to house the new production facilities and the large import and wholesale warehouse.
The traditional premises at Grosse Bleichen 10, which had meanwhile passed into third-party hands as a result of an inheritance, were destroyed by a fire in 1995. As a consequence, the firm discontinued its retail operations and erected a new office building at Michelsenweg 1, where the firm is now based. It is today managed by the fourth generation of the Peters family, represented by Malte Peters and his cousin Jan-Erik Peters, who have successfully added a web shop for fine wines and gifts to the business.