In 1952, Al Thome married Emmy Werner in her hometown of Offenbach, Germany, just south of Frankfurt in the state of Hesse. Al was stationed in Frankfurt while serving in the U.S. military when he met the young Miss Werner. The couple lived in Germany during the early years of marriage. During that time, Emmy and her mother taught Al how to cook authentic German cuisine using her mother’s family recipes. A few years later, Al and Emmy came to the U.S. to live in his home state of Illinois. In 1960, the couple moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

After living in Fort Smith for a short time, they realized there was an opportunity for them to start their own business and bring a little bit of Emmy’s homeland to the area. At the time, there were no German restaurants in Fort Smith. Emmy and Al were confident they knew how to cook up am wunderbarsten (the most wonderful) German food around. So, in 1962, with Al’s help in the kitchen, they opened their first Bavarian-styled restaurant in a small building on North 11th Street, near downtown Fort Smith. Later, they moved to an old Victorian style home at 602 North 16th Street and named their restaurant “Zum Deutschen Eck” (The German Corner). They later changed the name to Emmy’s German Restaurant and thus began a Fort Smith tradition that lasted over 40 years. To read more
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