When Rhein Haus Tacoma opens its Bavarian-themed beer hall in the Stadium neighborhood, it will be a massive 14,450-square-foot space with four bocce courts, two full bars and room for 250 diners. When spring comes, that seating number will increase by 50 with a dining patio facing Wright Park.
Construction is on track to finish this month, but its owners want to avoid opening amid the busy holidays. Expect a January opening.
The beer and German food emporium comes from Seattle-based restaurant owners. The Tacoma outpost is a duplicate of its sister restaurant of the same name near Seattle University.
The Tacoma location at the former Titus-Will service center will mirror the menu in Seattle with house-made sausage, spaetzle, schnitzel, cabbage rolls, goulash and schweinschaxe. The menu is from Pete Fjosne, executive chef of Seattle’s Rhein Haus and the restaurant group’s Denver location, which opened in 2015.
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The restaurant’s owners are Deming Maclise and James Weimann, co-owners of Seattle restaurants Poquitos, Bastille Cafe and Bar and Macleod’s Fish and Chips and Scottish Pub. Rich Fox, Dustin Watson and Matt Fundingsland are also owners (and part owners in Poquitos and Macleod’s).
Seattle Rhein Haus alumni will fill the Tacoma restaurant roster. Kelly Wilson, who has worked as Fjosne’s sous chef for three years (and at Bastille four years prior), will lead the kitchen in Tacoma. Assistant baker Julio Herrera will move to Tacoma.
The restaurant’s on-site bakery will produce all of the restaurant’s breads, including its pretzels, rye bread and desserts such as Berliners and strudel. An in-house charcuterie program will produce at least a half dozen daily sausage choices from a kitchen outfitted with a smokehouse. One of those sausages will be vegan. Landjaeger will be smoked in-house.
“We have over 100 recipes for sausage,” said Fjosne, who changes the sausage menu frequently. “On any given day, we process anywhere from 150 pounds. Today is a big production day. The guys will end up making 300 pounds of sausage today, but in any given week, we’ll go through 700 to 800 pounds of sausage,” said Fjosne last week.
The Tacoma bar manager will be Chris Giles, formerly of Rhein Haus Seattle who now works at Tacoma’s Crown Bar. The bar will feature a cocktail list with German digestifs and brandies. In a town full of ales and an abundant focus on India pale ales, the beer list will include a refreshing selection of lagers. Northwest-brewed lagers will be among the selections. (And of course, a choice of ales too).
Its owners had talked tentatively of opening a small lager-based brewery on site, but they ran out of space. “It’s always in the back of our minds, but it’s a matter of timing and having a good game plan,” said Fox. They won’t rule out a future brewery at another location, said Fox.
The restaurant will serve happy hour and dinner daily, with plans for weekend-only brunch/lunch. Kids are welcome at the beer hall and a visit there comes with a Bavarian-themed menu listing cheesy spaetzle, pork schnitzel and other kid-sized choices. Vegan and gluten-free items are offered.
A benefit of the immense space is the ability to cordon off areas for private functions for 5-500 diners.
The opening of the beer hall is continuing a small trend of Seattle-based restaurant companies expanding to Tacoma. Elemental Pizza opened a branch in downtown Tacoma last year and Seattle’s Chow Foods opened two restaurants this year near the Proctor neighborhood. Plans for Seattle restaurateur Tom Douglas to open a restaurant at Chambers Bay are under negotiation.
With a growing stable of Seattle restaurants, could more Tacoma restaurants be coming from the Rhein Haus owners?
“We’re open to it,” said Fox, who added that the restaurateurs don’t usually actively search for new spaces, but are open to recruitment as they were for this Tacoma location. “When this building was brought to our attention, it’s what we felt passionate about, which is a rehab project,” said Fox. He added that the restaurant’s owners are looking forward to “getting to know the nuances of the neighborhoods.”