German-inspired beer hall The Hall on Washington Street was first announced last June, and the owners had originally hoped to open last month, but some design changes have pushed the opening to sometime this May.
The buildings at 111 Whiskey Row used federal historic tax credits, meaning plans for the restaurant must go through Frankfort and received federal approvals. Workers also had to run an air vent down through the basement and will need to reroute some pipes.
Unlike most new restaurant concepts, The Hall on Washington Street isn’t pushing for a pre-Derby opening date, said managing member Chip Herchert, who also works for Bosse Mattingly Constructors. The build out will start soon and take about three months.
Along the right wall will be (potentially) Louisville’s longest bar. Herchert said he wasn’t trying to lay claim to that, but it will definitely be one of the longest at 67 feet. A bourbon barrel stave ceiling will hang over the bar with the rest of the ceiling featuring exposed beams.
Herchert has learned a few lessons from his other restaurant and bar venture Sidebar, just down Washington Street, that he’s applied to The Hall on Washington Street. The bar, for example, will have four drink wells to help bartenders serve customers more quickly.
“Our goal is to service people and be able to get drinks out fast. That is one of the things you learn down here, downtown for concerts and basketball games, it has to be built for speed and efficiency,” Herchert said. “Sidebar, I can’t get drinks out fast enough.”
Some of the original floor joists will be built into bar-top tables with bar stools in between the large wood beams that run down the middle of the space. Tall tables will also sit along the left wall. The front right space will have lounge seating and shuffleboard. The floor will be stained hardwood, and Edison light bulbs will be strung from the ceiling the length of the restaurant.
He described the food as “new era German.” It won’t be large portions of rouladen, pork shanks or sauerbraten. Instead, The Hall on Washington will serve up hot dogs and sausages with customizable toppings, pretzels, salads and sides such as roasted vegetables.
“I see who is eating in the real German joints — it’s older people. Older people aren’t coming downtown to eat, so I’ve got to find the new generation and they want sausages. They want it their way; they don’t want it filled with toppings,” Herchert said. He estimated that he and his business partners have tried more than 150 hot dogs and sausages.
Herchert told Insider that he wants to keep the prices low, so rather than giving giant side portions one would find at a traditional German restaurant, The Hall on Washington will serve smaller side portions for $1 or $2. Items will be served a la carte.
“If I can get a hot dog and sell you a hot dog for four bucks, I’ll be happy to sell you a hot dog for four bucks,” he said, noting that they don’t want to be one of those restaurants trying to sell customers $14 hot dogs.
As for the drinks, The Hall on Washington will have two sets of 12 taps. The bar will serve Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, which remain popular in Louisville, as well as some local brews and a traditional German Radler, a mix of beer, fruit juice and soda.
They also are toying with the idea of having European versus United States beers, Herchert said. Customers can try a kolsch or hefeweizen from Europe as well as one from Louisville and decided which they like best.
Mike McGorty, chef and co-general manager at Sidebar, will move to The Hall on Washington to manage the back-of-house operations. The Hall on Washington currently is looking for a front-of-house manager.