Our History

How We Started

Draeger's, which is now staffed by over 600 employees, was founded by Gustave Draeger, who came to this country from Stettin, Prussia (now a part of Poland) in 1903. The 14-year old Gustave first worked as a farmhand in Montana. After moving to San Francisco, he was employed as a taxi-driver, delivery truck driver, and as a waiter. The industrious young man was able to put aside a small savings fund and, with the help of a loan from the Bank of Italy (now the Bank of America), he opened his own business.

First Draeger'sThis first store, Draeger's Delicatessen, was located at the corner of 7th and Clement in the newly developed Richmond District of San Francisco. Through hard work and a close attention to quality, the business prospered; when his five-year lease was up, he opened a larger store a few blocks away at 16th and Geary.

Gustave's continued success with his deli encouraged him to expand into the adjoining store and develop a full service market. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the quick-thinking Gustave was able to obtain liquor license number one from the county of San Francisco. In the space next to his store, he immediately opened the city's first post-repeal liquor store. His business thrived and Gustave was soon able to build four liquor stores in the city. In 1943, deciding to retire, he sold all his business and holdings. A portion of retirement funds were invested in a vacant property at 40th and Taraval in San Francisco's Sunset district.

With the Bay Area booming in the war-time economy, the energetic Gustave couldn't resist developing this prime property and in 1945 he built the largest market in the city. This was perhaps the first "supermarket." Gustave leased his newly built store to his sons Frank and Gustave, Jr. who operated the business with much success. In 1949, they ventured out of the city into the rapidly developing town of San Mateo where they opened and jointly operated a second store. Six years later, Frank bought out his brother and continued the expansion of the business by developing the Menlo Park store. In 1959, Frank accepted a very strong unsolicited offer for the San Francisco store. In 1964, the San Mateo store was sold because of its limited size. This enabled Frank to concentrate all of his energies into creating what is now one of the nation's finest food stores.

As the third generation of Draegers enters into the business, expansion was once again part of the plan. In September of 1986, Draeger's purchased the Whitecliff Market in Los Altos. After being fully remodeled, this store became the current Draeger's of Los Altos. After eight years of research and careful planning, the Menlo Park store was completely remodeled into what is without question one of the most beautiful grocery stores in the United States. Features include a soaring two-story atrium defined by four 25' 9" oak Corinthian columns, a beautiful black marble coffee and wine bar, and thousands of feet of dramatic black ceramic tile. Although the square footage of the store was doubled and very little of the original structure remains, Draeger's did not close for a single day during remodeling, a testament to expert planning and great patience on the part of the Draeger family, their employees, and loyal customers.

This state of the art facility has enabled the Draeger's to enhance their already famous culinary services by adding a sausage kitchen and smokehouse, fully equipped bakery and enlarged deli kitchens, the most advanced wine storage facilities, a full-service restaurant, a nationally known cooking school, a complete cookware and cookbook department, a Chinese take-out kitchen, full service floral department, and a party supply department. Never content to rest, the Draeger family is committed to constantly improving the products and services which they offer their discriminating clientele. To this end, they encourage their buyers to seek the finest specialty food products, their cooks to produce the best food possible, and their clerks to offer the friendliest service. From its humble beginnings as a store front deli to its proud new environment, Draeger's has never lost sight of its mission to provide the best in food, wine, and service, and the Draeger family's pledge is to continue this mission into the new millennium.