German-Style Brewery and Beer Hall Planned for Firehouse Building in Olde Towne East
A group of restauranteurs living in Olde Towne East are planning to open a new German-style brewery and beer hall in the neighborhood. The Gemüt Biergarten will take over the first level of the Firehouse, formerly known as the Columbus Music Hall, at 734 Oak St.
“The operating group has lived and worked here in Olde Towne for many years,” says Gemüt CEO Kyle Hofmeister, “so they [Northwest Property Management, LLC] were super excited to have some locals go in there, and we were super excited to reinvest in the community and have an opportunity to serve our neighbors.”
A 3,300 square foot space, Gemüt will house a large beer hall, a front patio, and another biergarten and patio in back. A pathway will lead patrons from the biergarten to the beer hall, allowing them to get a peak of the brewery on the way, “so if the brewers are doing their thing, you can yell at them and bug them, ask them questions and stuff,” says Hofmeister.
For the project, Hofmeister joins his wife and Gemüt Creative Director Chelsea Rennie and Director of Brewing Operations Rob Camstra, who’ll be leaving his role as Lead Brewer at Four String Brewing Co. Together, their goal is to create a roster of European and German-style lagers and pilsners. Hofmeister and Rennie, both bringing years of experience in front- and back-of-house service industry jobs, observed a trend favoring these more traditional styles of beer — “more and more people are asking for beer-flavored beer, for lack of a better term,” says Hofmeister.
The beer will be accompanied by a menu of traditional European-inspired food, including a variety of German sausages. Operating in a fast-casual service style, Gemüt will have a kiosk where guests can order their food, take a buzzer, and retrieve their meal when it’s ready. Hofmeister said the setup not only simplifies the entire concept, but also encourages exploration, rather than guests being tied to one table.
With the plans they have for the building, there will definitely be the inclination to wander among bar patrons. Drawing from Hofmeister, Rennie and Camstra’s love for Dungeons and Dragons (it’s how the three met), Gemüt’s motif will be fantastical.
The beer, both in name and label, will be inspired by European folklore and fairy tales. Each of their flagship brews will be its own character, and those characters will be represented in several stained glass panels along the entire first floor.
For example, their first flagship beer will be their Helheim Helles, a helles lager. A stained glass window, as well as crowler labels, and other branding will depict Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld.
“That’s where Chelsea has really taken off. She’s got a really creative mind, and she’s found a couple of artists that can bring the beers to life through stained glass installed in the first floor of the beer hall,” Hofmeister says.
The theme will spread outdoors into the wooded biergarten, where Hofmeister hopes to add some nooks and hideaways to complement the standing gazebo the space already has.
Unlike many urban brewpubs, Gemüt will offer 40 designated parking spaces. Although a resident of Olde Towne East, Hofmeister anticipates this being a factor that will draw in people and families from other neighborhoods.
“We’re hoping the people who are coming in just to check out the new brewery in town can get initiated into that neighborhood experience, bumping elbows with people,” he says. “And we’re making it family friendly, too, so there will be items on the menu that kiddos can enjoy, and they’ll be running around the biergarten, getting in trouble like kids do.”
Hofmeister and co. are putting their plans for Gemüt before the OTE Neighborhood Association on Wednesday, August 8. Barring any complications, they hope to have the brewpub open to the public by April 2019.