ST. LOUIS – Gus’ Pretzels has been in business for 100 years and come January they will have a new owner, but don’t worry the iconic St. Louis business will remain in the family.
Gus Koebbe III or G3, 35, will take over as the fourth generation owner to run the business on January 2, 2021. G3 and his wife are buying the business as Gus Koebbe Jr., G2, and his wife, Suzanne, retire this year. The biggest change in the January transfer of ownership is that G3’s wife is an accountant will be taking over the books. G3 already leads the day-to-day operations of the Benton Park bakery at Arsenal and Lemp.
“Each generation has tried to talk the other generation out of the business. It’s just funny that’s the way it’s always been. I just think it’s in our blood. It’s a passion,” G3 said.
When the pandemic hit, it threw a wrench into Gus’ Pretzels plans to celebrate their 100th year. They had some parties planned throughout 2020, and they were going to kick it off right after St. Patrick’s Day with collaborations from other St. Louis staples, but the pandemic had other plans.
Gus’ was closed to the public for the month of April, but they were still operating to fulfill their wholesale business with Dierbergs and Schnucks. G3 said he was able to keep the employees working their usual hours.
“We’re lucky where we don’t have to fill up a dining room,” G3 said. “We’ve been doing take out and carry out since 1920 so we’ve been set up for this for a long time.”
Gus’ has been making pretzels with the same recipe for 100 years and has become a tradition for many.
“They come into St. Louis, they go to the zoo, they go to Ted Drewes, they come by Gus’, they get Imo’s. Being a part of that list is just really really neat,” G3 said.
G3’s great grandfather, Frank Ramsperger, was the original owner of Gus’ and started it out of necessity. Ramsperger was a riveter and lost his eye while working and then couldn’t get hired anywhere after the accident. G3 said there are documents that have his great grandfather’s name on them with his profession listed as baker starting in 1918, but the family uses 1920 as the official start date.
“We picked 1920 because that was the year my grandmother was born and no one loves pretzels more than my grandma. She was apparently the fastest twister in the world,” G3 said.
Even though G2 is retiring, G3 said his dad will probably be at the shop a few times a week.
“I think my dad will show up when my mom gets tired of him at the house,” G3 said.
Gus’ is more than just a father and son tradition, G3’s sister takes care of social media and human resources responsibilities. He also said all of his aunts, uncles, and cousins have worked in the shop at some point.
G3 and his wife welcomed a son three months ago. He said right now they are calling him Gussy or Buddy, but he could turn into G4 one day. G3 has two daughters ahead of Gussy, 4-year-old Reese and 2-year-old Susan. He said the business is not reserved for Gussy. If any of his children show an interest down the line he will happily let them take over.