Al's Intros New Dirndl Design for Servers for First Time in Over 20 Years
(definition) Dirndl: a woman's dress with close-fitting bodice and full skirt, commonly of colorful and strikingly patterned material, fashioned after Tyrolean peasant wear.
Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik has announced that an intensive search for a new uniform design to outfit the restaurant's servers has successfully ended and the resulting custom uniforms will be introduced on Friday, October 11. A new vest for the restaurant's male servers, complementing the new dirndls, will debut on the same day.
Over 30 years ago, the restaurant would debut a new dirndl design at the start of each new tourism season, said Gunilla Wilson, the now-retired manager of Al's Butik. "Ingert Johnson and I would source a new dirndl in a different design and color every year," said Wilson. "We would travel to the dirndl trade show in Salzburg, Austria, and we would buy hundreds of dirndls for use by restaurant and retail staff and for retail sale in the Butik. But over time, the cost of all that innovation became really prohibitive."
A combination of a patterned, dark blue Austrian-style dirndl with stockings (white stockings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and black stockings from Labor Day to the following Memorial Day), a blue apron, and Scandinavian clogs, the new uniforms are the result of a fabric and design search led by Al's Front of House Manager Jaime Blossom, who said the search had gestated for years until this past March. "Five years ago, Lars (Johnson, Al's co-owner) gave me a catalog from an import house," said Blossom. "They had created our well-known red and black dirndls 25 years ago, so I told them I was looking for a new design in dark blue that would also wear well and always look great. Amazingly, they nailed it on the first try, then sent me a bunch of fabric samples. We chose a high blend polyester that's super silky and soft. I've never seen anything quite like this fabric."
Blossom said the same process resulted in beautiful dark blue aprons made from a thick, rugged fabric and a white all-cotton blouse with smocking below the neckline. Al's female servers will complete their new uniforms with an apron, stockings and either Dansko or Troentorp clogs, the latter imported from Sweden. Both clog brands are sold in Al's Butik.
The restaurant's male servers will soon sport a new navy blue fitted vest with pewter buttons. The male servers will accompany their vests with black slacks, black clogs and a white shirt.
"I think we've done a good job of individualizing the look of our new dirndls with vertical custom ribbons above the waistline," said Blossom. "What we all love about this new design is how calming the blue fabric looks and feels. We wear these uniforms all day long, and for many days on end during the season, so that's important."
Al Johnson's new dirndls will be on sale in Al's Butik by summer 2020, said Butik Manager Sarah Zander. "This is a high quality product that we'll be really proud to sell," said Zander. "We've been selling a wide range of different dirndl styles for women and girls over the decades, and this new design feels like a high point."
Watch a fun, behind-the-scenes video from Al Johnson's recent photo shoot of its new dirndl designs: https://youtu.be/d2mvf-v5KcM
From Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik, 10698 N. Bay Shore Drive, P.O. Box 257, Sister Bay, WI 54234; 920.854.2626; www.aljohnsons.com.