Sandie of the Jägerhaus Passes On.

Sandie Schwaiger, owner of East Anaheim’s legendary German restaurant The Jägerhaus, died on October 6 at the age of 78. Her health and spirits had been in the dumps for the last five months, ever since the Anaheim Council’s rejection of our appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to allow a carwash, gas station, and 24-hour 7-11 to take the place of the Jägerhaus and the half a dozen other small locally-owned businesses of Sunkist Plaza (northeast corner of Ball and Sunkist.) I guess Sandie had fought as long as she could.

For over two decades the Jägerhaus has hosted Los Amigos meetings every Wednesday morning, and I’ve been going whenever I can and ordering Polish sausage and eggs or their “farmer’s omelette.” But I didn’t realize the restaurant provided meeting space to so many other groups as well – the Anaheim High School Alumni Club, Toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce-sponsored political debates, weddings and quinceañeras – it’s been a real community resource.

And a few years ago, when it seemed possible that she could purchase the property on which her restaurant and the other Sunkist Plaza businesses sat, Sandie had a vision. After all, the Jägerhaus sits right at the eastern gateway to Anaheim – the first thing drivers see turning onto Ball off the 57, or crossing the riverbed from Orange. And the vision Sandie had, which seemed both possible and wonderful four years ago, was of a wondrous European “biergarten,” welcoming visitors at the gateway to Anaheim:

Even the well-paid Jay Burress of tourist agency Visit Anaheim was enthusiastic about this plan. Unfortunately Jay Buress doesn’t call the shots (or else we’d also have an Anaheim Performing Arts Center) – he takes his orders from lesser and greedier men, like lobbyist Jeff Flint and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. And when an LA speculator bought up the property instead, and hired Jeff Flint to get their way with Council, the dream was over.

Now the eastern entrance to Anaheim will be marked by a carwash instead.

The Struggle, 2020-21

Neighborhood opposition to the carwash / 7-11 plan was basically unanimous – nobody around there wanted the noise of a 600-car-a-day car wash, the 12-foot sound wall that would entail, the increased traffic, and the nuisance of a 24-hour store on the corner. But when a developer hires Jeff Flint, in Anaheim, they get what they want. So Sandie was going to have to move, and so were the half-dozen small, locally-owned, minority-owned businesses adjoining – either move or close shop for good.

Sandie’s Jägerhaus is very popular – not just in Anaheim, but worldwide – and with the help of legendary realtor Paul Kott she was able to get a good location to move to, near City Hall. But the other businesses, suffering after a year of Covid, were not so fortunate and are still looking for a place to move that they can afford, or face closure. So when the Planning Commission gave the okay to the carwash development, Sandie asked me to appeal that decision to Council, and gave me the $400 appeal fee. I think that was the last time I saw her.

I admired her paying for the appeal. There was nothing in it for her. She already had a place to go. She did it for the benefit of her neighboring small businesses, because they were all like a family by that point, having been there for 15 to 25 years. And she did it for the neighborhood that had supported her for decades, the neighborhood that didn’t want the noise and traffic.

And she paid for that appeal in other ways. We didn’t tell anybody except a few close friends that she had covered the fee, but somehow the Council found out within a day or two, and one Councilman called her, all upset: “Why did you give Vern that $400? This carwash is inevitable! You might not like the way this turns out for you!” And for the next few days the Health Department showed up looking for excuses to close down the Jägerhaus.

That’s the kind of gangster town we live in. And that’s the kind of brave selfless lady Sandie was. She was a little shocked, but she laughed about it, laughed in amazement.

But her health really took a nosedive right around then. My appeal was unsuccessful – Sunkist Plaza was killed by Jordan Brandman, Harry Sidhu, Trevor O’Neil and Jose Diaz. And Sandie was unable to attend that hearing anyway, because on May 20 her best friend Kay Jones had to take her to the St Joseph’s ER with complete kidney failure. A few weeks later she fell at home and had to have surgery to repair two shattered vertebrae. After that, it was skilled nursing facilities, physical rehabilitation, another infection, more skilled nursing facilities, rehab. A retirement board and care facility was the last place she stayed. She died at St Joseph’s hospital ER at 11:45pm on Oct 6, 2021. The cause of death was heart failure. Kay Jones was with her.  Yesterday (Monday) she was buried in Riverside’s Evergreen Memorial Park after a private service. A Celebration of Life will be planned for her in the spring that will include all of her friends and fans.

Rosalinda, owner of the Sunkist Plaza beauty salon “A New Look,” remembers Sandy:

Sandie’s Riverside friend of 45 years, Kay Jones, wrote the following obituary:

Sandra Lynn Schwaiger

December 8, 1942 – October 6, 2021

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma one year into WWII to parents Thelma Marsted (Carlson) and Lester Frank Schockner (Col., U.S. Army Retired), Sandie, the oldest of three sisters,  lived in New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, New York (West Point), Oklahoma again at both Ft Sill and Lawton, Okinawa, Alabama, Virginia, and Texas in her early years.

Starting in junior high in Okinawa, she made close friends who stayed in touch over the years. Her sparkling personality and embracing friendliness led to her being named to the homecoming courts in both of her high schools in Alabama and Texas, and she continued to attend reunions for both of those schools for many years.

After graduating from Texas Christian University in the 1960’s, she accompanied her husband John Lipari to Southern California and lived in Riverside for years. She and John started a specialty magazine where Sandie first applied her imagination and her people skills towards the print advertising industry.

Sandie started working at a small hometown newspaper, the Daily Independent, in Corona, CA, just outside of Riverside, where she met many of her lifelong friends. Personable, creative and industrious, she was quickly promoted to Advertising Director. Since she grew up in an Army family that moved every two or three years, she loved that small town feeling of knowing everyone, of belonging to a community. Her early experiences of moving into new places and making new friends helped shape the inclusive and welcoming personality that was “trademark Sandie.”

Sandie left the Daily Independent and went to Hemet to work for the Hemet Daily News, another “hometown” newspaper in a slightly larger town. She made friends everywhere and eventually started working for Val-Pak, a direct mail coupon product that specialized in Mom-N-Pop businesses.

Leaving Hemet, she moved to Orange County and worked for Old World Village in Huntington Beach. It was there that she met, fell in love and married a German chef named Anton Schwaiger. 

After making a career move to the premiere Orange County magazine, OC Metro, her personality and creativity made her a top-seller once again in the advertising industry. She made many friends in Orange County businesses, many of whom kept in touch with her the rest of her days. Sandie and Anton purchased a restaurant in Anaheim called Jägerhaus German Restaurant.

Although Sandie had never worked in the hospitality industry, she had grown up with some pretty spectacular German cooking, done by her father. She was intrigued by the restaurant, the recipes that were hundreds of years old and the families who had been coming to the restaurant for years. 

At the time Sandie and Anton purchased Jägerhaus, it had been operating for 20 years. When Sandie and Anton divorced, Sandie kept the restaurant and managed it until her death, 22 years later in Anaheim, CA. She guided the restaurant into the limelight, winning awards such as “Best Breakfast in Orange County” by Reader’s Choice, accolades from critics as well as patrons and thousands of social media followers. Sandie was an award-winning restaurateur who lived locally, believed in treating people well and had long-time employees whom she considered family.

Always community-minded and a champion for small business, Sandie used Jägerhaus to support many community events over the years. Service clubs often held their meetings at the restaurant because Sandie didn’t charge them for the use of the banquet room & their fund-raising efforts could be applied toward their goals. She supported college events, local fund-raisers and the Newport Beach Film Festival, where her contribution of German fare was extremely popular. Sandie was also a champion for animals, supporting ASPCA financially and with awareness-raising.

Sandie’s remarkable people skills were showcased in the hospitality industry and she truly loved getting to know her guests, hearing their stories and often sharing the history of various selections from the huge menu or just chatting about the local news. Her amazing quick wit, curiosity, humor and graciousness made customers into family. Smiling, caring, always ready to laugh and always believing in the positive, Sandie was the ultimate optimist and affected so many lives, always with a positive light. And the world is a dimmer place without her.

*******************

In 2016, the Weekly‘s Anne Marie Panoringan printed this charming interview with Sandie, which includes her answers to such burning questions as: Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Best childhood memory? And Hardest life lesson you’ve learned?

You’re going to ask me but I don’t know…

What now with the Jägerhaus? How long will they stay open? Days? Forever? Will they be moving to that location near City Hall? We don’t know any of that yet. I do know it now belongs to Sandie’s best friend Kay Jones.

And I do know they’re open NOW! And Los Amigos is back there every Wednesday at 7:30 AM. And the waiters (especially Ruben) are the most delightful chaps. So drop by when you can!

MENU HERE.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.