William Herbst, 79, a retired food and liquor store owner, died Tuesday at his home in Silver Spring after a heart attack.

A native of Austria, Mr. Herbst had lived in New York and New Jersey, where he was a pattern maker and dress designer until coming to the Washington area in 1934.

He first opened a grocery store, the American Market, in Northeast, and then several other grocery stores in the city, the last of which was the Prospect Market in Georgetown. He opened Decatur Liquors on 14th Street NW in 1964.

Mr. Herbst, who was in partnership with his son, Jack, remained active in the store operation until retiring two months ago.

He was a member of the Zionist Farband Organization and the Workmen's Circle.

In addition to his son, of Silver Spring, he is survived by his wife, Clara, of home; two daughter, Sylvia Gross, of Silver Spring, and Frieda Gallun, of Adelphi; a brother, Herman, of Kenwood; three sisters, Sarah Stern, of Brooklyn, Celia Eiss, of Brighton Beach, N.Y., and Rae Deutsch, of West Hyattsville, nine grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to Beth Sholom Congregation.