Although anxious enthusiasts are “out with knives and pitchforks,” says Das Bierhaus owner Nick Karabelas, he’s not yet willing to set an official date for the grand opening of his German-style eatery. The restaurant was originally scheduled to start serving during the summer, but the date was pushed back time and time again as Karabelas waited for the completion of the brand new building — on lower Church Street where Five Spice Café once stood — and all the appropriate permits.
Prospective patrons aren’t the only ones who are eager — the staff is, too, says Karabelas — but he’s being cautious. “We’ve spent this much time, and I want to make sure we’re ready. We get one shot [to make an impression],” he notes.
To prepare for the big day, Karabelas is in the midst of a series of soft openings. He sends out same-day notifications to all the restaurant’s Facebook “fans,” and the first ones to write back get an invitation. On one occasion, he boasts, there were “eight responses within the first two minutes. In 15 minutes we were full.” Karabelas is planning five more social-media-driven events before the new year. “People who are curious should join the Facebook page and keep an eye on it,” he suggests.
What do the lucky few get? Plenty of hearty fare and German beers. “We have eight on draft now,” says Karabelas — some, he says, available in Vermont for the first time. The brews include Spaten and Weihenstephan lagers and Ayinger Celebrator doppelbock. Vermont microbrews are available in bottles.
To go with the suds, Karabelas — who is currently acting as executive chef — is cooking up five different kinds of sausages, including knockwurst and rustic bauernwurst. Then there’s spätzle, schnitzel, potato salad and obatzda, a traditional Bavarian spread made by whipping together several types of cheese, paprika and onions.
As the restaurant evolves, Karabelas says, the menu will grow. “We’re working on a mac ’n’ cheese recipe that’s coming along really well. We had an awesome cheese and beer soup that will be making regular appearances,” he notes. “Some veggie options will be appearing, as well.”
So far, Karabelas attests, things have been going well. “We’ve been doing comment cards … it&