Lowbrau owners Michael Hargis and Clay Nutting say they expect to open their German-style beer hall and sausage restaurant in the first few weeks of December, if construction stays on track.
The restaurant will take the 20th and K streets location of the former Lounge on 20, which closed earlier this year after an extensive redesign failed to draw fine-dining customers in the numbers needed to make it succeed.
Hargis and Nutting say they have a markedly different concept, with the communal tables, larger square bar and decor that’s a cross between modern and Bavarian styling designed to foster a sense of community at affordable prices.
“We were really lucky,” Hargis said Tuesday. “We’ve been working on this for two years, and the best location in the city happened to become available. We’re beyond excited.”
So how does a German beer hall fit in with Midtown culture?
“It pays homage to the German beer hall but with the look and feel of Midtown,” Hargis said.
One of the aspects that combines the two cultures will be a shadow-box display featuring a classic German fixture – the cuckoo clock. But instead of something that will quickly feel dated, Hargis said, it will be done in a monochromatic fashion so it blends with the feel of Midtown.
Another aspect of the design will be the incorporation of birch trees used in one area as a mini dividing wall. A private dining room will be sealed off with sliding barn doors, and all of the furniture and building materials are locally sourced.
The beer selection will be varied, and Nutting says something will be available to satisfy any palate.
“Beer is something that we’re really passionate about,” Nutting said. “We will have some German beers on tap and in bottles. Also, we’ll have Belgian and craft and local beers.”
But beer is only part of the equation.
“Sausage is the focus of our kitchen,” Hargis said. “We’ll have traditional sausages like bockwurst and knockwurst, and of course frankfurters, but we’ll have some gourmet ones – maybe elk or quail.”
The restaurant will also offer a vegan sausage.
“This is a place we want everyone to be comfortable in, and a lot of people in Midtown are vegetarians or vegans,” Nutting said.
Prices are designed to appeal to the community as well, with lunch and a beer running around $12.
Hargis and Nutting teamed up with the crew from Shady Lady Saloon for the cocktail menu, and a number of the drinks will be based on traditional German schnapps.
Schnapps is traditionally a flavored brandy, and Hargis says he’s excited to roll out the cocktail options, which were some of the most popular items when a trial dinner for family and friends was held a few months ago.
The majority of the seating in the approximately 3,700-square-foot space will be dedicated to communal tables, with a few tables for two or four available to people who want a more intimate setting.
Patio space was a must for the duo, who says the MARRS Building’s large deck was part of what made the space ideal. About 150 can be seated inside, with another 70 on the patio.
“We also are really happy to be able to have 20th Street right outside,” Hargis said. “We will want to do something for Oktoberfest next year, and there are other events we’d like to participate in.”
Hargis and Nutting are behind the Launch Festival, which was in the central city earlier this year. Nutting has a background in events through working with Concerts 4 Charity to raise funds with music.
Nutting says that events management is a field that’s all about showing people a good time, and it’s something he and Hargis will strive to do with Lowbrau.
Standing in the center of the restaurant, near the as-yet-unfinished bar, Nutting rests a hand on the rough plywood and takes in the sight before expressing exactly what he wants to see it become: “This is a place where a lot of good stories will come from.”