Hofbrauhaus brings Bavarian charm to the Strip

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LAS VEGAS -- There's no telling where a Las Vegas vacation may lead you.

Take, for example, Stefan Gastager, a German who visited the city a few years back with friends and who, at the time, was contemplating opening a restaurant in Malaysia.

After his visit, the more he thought about it, Gastager said, the more he was convinced that maybe Malaysia wasn't the right location for a restaurant.

"Then somehow I thought about Las Vegas," he said, and of the city's themed restaurants and hotel-casino properties that for years have attracted millions of visitors.

That's when Gastager hit upon the idea of replicating one of Munich's most famous tourist sites: the Hofbrauhaus.

"I thought, 'If they can copy Venice with the Venetian, then anything was possible,' " he said.

That was in December 1999; by the time the new millennium rolled around, Gastager was hard at work researching his project. During the next two years, details fell into place and a suitable site was located.

Finding investors, however, was not easy, and after 9/11, he said, "no one wanted to invest in the U.S."

But eventually that hurdle was cleared, and now Gastager and his partners are giving the city an authentic taste of Bavaria.

The Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, which was set to open Feb. 1, is a full-scale reproduction of the Munich Hofbrauhaus, right down (or is it up?) to its roof, which is composed of 75,000 imported, Bavarian "beaver-tail" tiles.

Even its location, on Paradise Road across from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, is similar to that of its German counterpart, which is located across the strasse from the Hard Rock Cafe Munich.

The main portion of the facility, known as the schwemme, or beer hall, will accommodate 380 people and will feature columns, painted ceilings and a small stage where different Bavarian bands will perform, according to Gastager.

Connected to the schwemme by a small hallway, the biergarten, or beer garden, will offer the ambience of a traditional beer garden -- there's a fountain in the center of the room surrounded by myriad chestnut trees -- except for one difference: The 430-seat space will be indoors, under a ceiling painted to resemble the Bavarian sky.

The space also includes 16 plasma-screen TVs, where patrons can watch the entertainment and goings-on in the main beer hall, and a mezzanine level that, for the moment, won't be open because of the facility's limited parking.

Future expansion will include the construction of a parking structure in the rear of the property, Gastager said.

The beer garden also can be closed off from the main beer hall and used for conferences, meetings, weddings, receptions and other events, he added.

Five German chefs ensure that the restaurant's menu, which includes such signature dishes as sauerbrauten and apple strudel, is authentic; even the sauerkraut and pretzel dough are imported, Gastager said.

Also imported is the beer. Three different varieties will be served at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, including Hofbrau Original, Hofbrau Dunkel and Munchner Kindl Weissbier.

Patrons who want to take a little bit of Bavaria home with them can visit the on-site souvenir shop or browse online at www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com. Items for sale include beer steins and traditional Bavarian clothing.

To contact reporter Amy Baratta, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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