While the Hofbräuhaus has not yet opened its doors to the public, the German restaurant and brewery did host its first event Wednesday when the Young Professionals group of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce got a taste of the Hofbräuhaus beer and food.
The Hofbräuhaus had announced it would have a “soft opening” in early March but a date for this opening has not been released. The grand opening date previously was announced as April 18 and as of Friday, that ceremony is still planned for that date.
The chamber event on Wednesday was only for invited guests to the restaurant off Illinois 15 across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
“We got some really good feedback,” said Alex Matthews, vice president of marketing for the Hofbräuhaus’ management company. “People really seemed to enjoy the experience. That was the first event we’ve had in the building.”
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Along with enjoying the German food and beer, the chamber members were entertained by a band from Germany - Trio Original Europaschwung.
“It went very well,” Matthews said of the musicians. “They brought out the alphorn and got into some crowd interactions. They did a really good job.”
Matthews said the Hofbräuhaus now has about 150 to 160 employees.
Before announcing its goal to have a soft opening in early March, the restaurant has missed seven previous goals to open. The first one was June 1, 2016, and others included this past January and Feb. 26.
Construction on the $12 million restaurant and brewery began in late 2015 and the Belleville City Council has granted the developers, Chuck Keller, of Effingham, and his son, Chane Keller, up to $32.36 million in tax incentives.
Matthews acknowledged the delay in the restaurant’s opening but believes the wait will be worth it.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “It’s such a long time coming and it’s certainly a big development that we’ll be able to bring to Belleville.”
This will be the eighth Hofbräuhaus in the country, and the Belleville location will be the largest Hofbräuhaus in the United States with room to host 1,100 people at a time between the beer hall, private room and outdoor beer garden, according to the Hofbräuhaus.
Matthews said the marketing plan seeks to draw customers not only locally but from the St. Louis metropolitan area and the Midwest.
The Hofbräuhaus is modeled after the Munich, Germany-based Hofbräuhaus, which traces its roots to 1589. The Kellers have said they received the exclusive Hofbräuhaus franchise for the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Along with granting the tax incentives, the City Council agreed to spend $2.42 million to extend sewer lines to the site.
The Kellers have proposed building hotels and other restaurants on the site, but work on those projects have not started. Also, the Jack Flash convenience store chain has said it will build a store on the site, but construction has not yet begun. A Kansas City man had proposed building a soccer park next to the Hofbräuhaus, but those plans came to a halt after the developer died in 2016.
The St. Clair County Health Department said the Hofbräuhaus has passed the inspection required before a restaurant can open.