Saturday, May 25, 2002

German brewery toasts Newport

Bottoms up! Hofbrauhaus holds ground-breaking ceremony for beer garden

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Germany's famed Hofbrauhaus broke ground Friday for its first North American location — Over-the-Ohio in Newport, not Over-the-Rhine in Zinzinnati.

        The world-famous beer garden, with only two other locations in the world — in Munich and Hong Kong — is a top tourist attraction in Germany.

[photo] Rudi Seider, Hofbrauhaus export manager, taps a keg of beer as Andi Udris holds the keg. Maximilian Erlmeier, a Hofbrauhaus Newport consultant, brings mugs at a ceremony Friday.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        Hofbrauhaus representatives negotiated with Cincinnati as early as 1996, in part because of the city's strong German heritage.

        But plans to locate the 720-patron capacity beer hall next to Paul Brown Stadium or elsewhere downtown stalled. In September 2001, Hofbrauhaus announced plans to open the beer garden in Newport.

        “In a certain sense, it would have been wonderful if it was on the banks of the Ohio in Cincinnati, but that was not to be because of political reasons,” said Honorary German Consul Richard Schade of Clifton. “But visitors will still get to see the spectacular view of Cincinnati, sister city of Munich.”

        He said Newport landed the beer garden because the city and business community were proactive.

        “Newport knows what it wants and goes out to get it,” said Mr. Schade, who was familiar with the negotiations because of his role as a liaison to the German government. “It is clear they have a vision, knew this was a good thing, and went out and made it happen.”

        Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken couldn't be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

[photo] The old Dennert Beer Distributing Co. building will house Hofbrauhaus Newport.
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        Cincinnati's former economic development director, Andi Udris, is now head of the Cincinnati Restaurant Group, the company overseeing the U.S. expansion of the German firm HB Muenchen.

        The Newport Aquarium was also originally planned for downtown Cincinnati.

        But it was built in Newport with millions in tax credits from the Kentucky Tourism Act. Newport on the Levee, a $215 million entertainment and restaurant complex just over the Interstate 471 bridge from Cincinnati, is nearly across the street from the Hofbrauhaus site. The Levee also benefited from Kentucky tax credits.

        But Newport Mayor Thomas Guidugli said the Hofbrauhaus project is not getting any state or city assistance for development outside of Newport's positive attitude toward development.

        “If a somebody calls me in the middle of the night about a development, I will get out of bed and meet them,” Mr. Guidugli said.

        North America's first Hofbrauhaus will be in an 86-year-old building on Third Street that housed a beer distributor for 47 years. The city is seeking to have the one-story brick structure individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

        The Hofbrauhaus, scheduled to open in December, will be similar to what Americans have come to know as micro-breweries. It will be a 13,315-square-foot facility that will include a beer hall, beer garden and indoor restaurant.

        The on-site microbrewery operation will have the capability to generate up to 7,332 barrels of beer a year with an experienced German brewmaster who will be trained and monitored by HB Muenchen, a wholly owned company of the state of Bavaria that operates the original Hofbrauhaus.

        It was established in 1589, making it one of the oldest breweries in Germany. It was the Royal Court Brewery for the state of Bavaria and welcomes nearly two million guests a year.

        Mr. Schade remembers drinking a beer as a child with his father in the early 1950s when much of the city had not been rebuilt from Allied forces' World War II bombing. Munich's Hofbrauhaus was one of the only buildings left standing. The Hofbrauhaus is also where Hitler's National Socialists first met in 1920. But today, the postcard-perfect building is filled to the brim with beer-guzzling sightseers.

        The Newport project's developers, including Nick Ellison of Fort Thomas, didn't say how much a pint of beer will cost.

        “I'm ecstatic that Newport and Greater Cincinnati has crowned its German heritage by landing a Hofbrauhaus,” Mr. Schade said. “It is fitting that a German brewery is locating here in a big and highly symbolic way.”

        Cincinnati's German heritage was so strong in the mid-1900s that the neighborhood across the canal that ran where Central Parkway is today earned the name Over-the-Rhine.


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