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People Top 5
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- May 19, 1980
- Vol. 13
- No. 20
Norbert Wabnig, 27, is Beverly Hills' cheese purveyor to the stars. Laurence Olivier comes to Norbert's fromage-and-wine shop a block from Rodeo Drive for Stilton and fine port. Billy Wilder, Gene Wilder and Dinah Shore prefer Brie. Mel Brooks buys Parmesan. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood send their cook over for Swiss. Of the 500 kinds, perhaps the biggest seller in that diet-obsessed bastion is pot cheese. Norbert's late father was an engineer and his mother an actress, but Vienna-born Norbert wanted to make it as a pop musician. Although he knew only German when he moved with his family to New Orleans at the age of 5, he now speaks English without a trace of an accent. After graduating from LSU, he entered grad school in sociology but dropped out to head for California and a career in piano or drums. To pay the rent, he took a job at the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. Three years later, in 1978, with a loan from his family, he scraped together the money to buy the store when its owner became ill, and Norbert now grosses $750,000 a year. He and wife Donna, who just had their first child, have moved up to a new house in woodsy Topanga Canyon and his-and-her Mercedeses. Although Norbert plans to open another store in Encino this summer, he still plays the piano and sings in a rock group called Wendell Nightfall. "I have no time for sports," says Norbert. "My life is devoted to two things: music and cheese."
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