It was a year later than expected, but the Hall on Washington St., a German-style beer hall and restaurant on Whiskey Row, recently opened to the public.
The restaurant, owned by the same group that owns Sidebar at Whiskey Row, saw numerous delays owing to everything from historical restoration parameters, to federal tax credit requirements to unforeseen challenges in getting the building, at 111 Washington St. in the backside of the 111 Whiskey Row building, up to city specifications.
The delays included some issues with exposed wood columns to re-routed ductwork to ceiling restrictions. But the Hall is now open and serving, much to the relief of co-owner Chip Herchert.
The space has taken the form of a modern German-inspired beer hall, rustic thanks to exposed brick, the exposed wood columns, long, high-top tables and a 65-foot bar that extends the length of the narrow space.
But bright orange booths and chairs, plus a modern lounge/waiting area, give it a hint of an upscale feel, and a dozen flatscreen TVs make it a place to settle in for a game.
But delays that once seemed like obstacles later became blessings because many resulting design changes turned out for the better.
“Every delay we’ve had has either saved us money or made it better,” says Herchert.
Including the front waiting area, the restaurant will seat about 200 with plenty of room for standing room during busy times, specially when customers descend on the neighborhood for an event at the Yum! Center.
When Herchert was trying to come up with a suitable concept, he found himself looking into Louisville history for separation, reading a couple of books that focused largely on the German influx into the city in the 1800s. Knowing Louisville had very few German restaurants, he began researching other restaurants around the country.
The menu helps tell this story, while also noting that the building itself once housed one of Louisville’s top pork producers, which also inspired the theme. Another business that once occupied the Whiskey Row building was a German-owned distillery.
“I said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Herchert says. “We just have to tell the story.”
And so the menu packed with German small plates, sausages, entrees and other items came together, with Herchert sampling “at least 190” sausages along the way, “from Texas to Wisconsin.”
Prices start with a $4 frankfurter, and none of the sausages exceed $8 — and you can get it on a bun with a choice of two toppings, served with bread or sliced in a currywurst plate. A “Brauhause Pretzle” with mustard is $4.
Three different styles of wurst fries are available for sharing, while entrees, which top out at $16 for steak frites, include schwenkbraten (grilled pork chops), chicken schnitzel in pretzel batter and others.
One intriguing aspect of the menu is a build-your-own charcuterie menu that can be ordered a la carte or in choose-your-ingredients boards for larger parties. Menu items include meats like braunschweiger — “Meat butter,” says Chef Mike McGorty — salami and pepperoni, while seven different cheese range from grana Padano to smoked gouda. Extras include bread, mixed olives, shaved pickle and more.
Three sandwiches and three salads also are available.
The moderate price points for most items is by design, Herchert says, because he believes a large part of the clientele will be those people who come downtown for an event and want something that can enjoy quickly beforehand or afterward. McGorty notes that pretty much any item on the menu can be ready to serve in 10 minutes or less.
In addition, the sausages were chosen to represent different palates, from someone who wants traditional German flavors to someone who, well, just wants a hot dog.
Herchert adds that seasonal German specials and sausage-of-the-week promotions will be forthcoming in a few weeks. Also, you can get a half-liter of draft beer if you really want to Oktoberfest it up. The Hall will carry local beers as well as German classics such as Warsteiner and Radenburger.
The Hall on Washington is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; and Saturday, noon-10:30 p.m.