Park Slope Beer Hall Opening Delayed by Red Tape

By Leslie Albrecht on July 30, 2012 3:22pm 

PARK SLOPE — Red tape is holding back the opening of a long-awaited authentic German beer hall in Park Slope, leaving locals thirsting for al fresco brews at the height of the outdoor drinking season.

Beer lovers have been waiting for months for taps to flow freely at the new Die Koelner Bierhalle at 84 St. Mark's Place near Fourth Avenue, but beer-busting bureacracy is standing in the way, the owners say.

"We can't do anything until we know what's happening with the Department of Buildings," said Natasha Kokonezi, a partner and manager at Die Koelner Bierhalle.

The beer hall has been eagerly anticipated since October 2011, when news first broke that it was in the works. Its backers had once hoped to open as early as January, Kokonezi said. But as of July 27, the beer hall still needed to meet three outstanding paperwork requirements with the DOB before it could open, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

On Monday, Kokonezi said she and her partners, one of whom was a former owner of Der Schwarze Kölner beer hall in Fort Greene, were hoping to get word by Wednesday that the Department of Buildings had finalized the beer hall's certificate of occupancy — the key legal document that will allow the super-sized bar to do business, Kokonezi said.

After that, they'll spend a week training the staff, then the beer hall plans a soft opening.

"We're finally at the end," Kokonezi said. "We lost half the summer, which is bad, but we'll be open for Labor Day." Despite the delays, Kokonezi said she and her partners appreciated the DOB's work in helping the new business open.

When it finally does, the beer hall will hold up to 200 drinkers in a sprawling 4,000-square foot indoor drinking space and a 1,200-square foot back yard garden, making it one the largest watering holes in the neighorhood.

The beer hall's Facebook page has already garnered close to 400 "likes" and fielded dozens of queries about the opening date. Lately fans have been posting encouraging comments in response to status updates about the beer hall's wait for city approvals.

"Down with red tape! Up with beer!" wrote one future customer in response to a July 24 update saying Die Koelner Bierhalle couldn't confirm its opening date because it was awaiting a response from the DOB.

Park Slopers who've spent the summer building up a thirst for German beer will be rewarded for their patience. Die Koelner Bierhalle will feature 30 German beers on tap and 40 bottled beers.

Aside from plentiful Bavarian brews and a menu stocked with bratwurst and kielbasa, Die Koelner Bierhalle aims to provide a sense of camaraderie, Kokonezi said. It's modeled after beer halls in Cologne, a city that has a Brooklyn-esque atmosphere because it's one of Germany's most relaxed and open cities, Kokonezi said. Customers will be encouraged to get to know each other at long communal tables.

"[In Cologne] they love their beer and they know how to have fun. Everyone mingles with each other," Kokonezi said. "That's very important in New York. It can be a very lonely city."

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