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Turn-of-the-Century Style Beer Hall Opens Next to Columbia

By Emily Frost | September 25, 2014 10:30am | Updated on September 26, 2014 1:15pm
 The beer hall and restaurant seats 250 people and has 30 outdoor seats. 
Bernheim & Schwartz Beer Hall
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MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — Elaborate porcelain German beer steins are stacked high in a dark antique cabinet, turn-of-the-century lamps glow and sepia-tone photos of carousing New Yorkers line the walls of the cavernous new beer hall Bernheim & Schwartz. 

The 250-seat venue — from the operators of other big beer halls in the West Village and Flatiron District, as well as five Heartland Brewery outposts — opened this week just outside Columbia University's gates on Broadway between West 113 and 114th streets.

The space harkens back to an early 1900s haunt with a full lunch and dinner menu, wine, cocktails and 10 beers brewed at Greenpoint Beer Works in Clinton Hill.

The name is borrowed from a brewery founded in 1903 on Amsterdam Avenue and West 127th Street, and its logo and style are replicated throughout the new spot. 

Owners the Blue Stein Group transformed the space over the course of 16 weeks from its former iteration as Havana Central. 

"I want it to be a neighborhood place that attracts people from beyond the neighborhood," said owner Jon Bloostein, who heads the group. 

With a self-seating outdoor cafe, a full sit-down restaurant inside and a walled-off back room full of communal tables and its own bar, there is a place for everyone — especially the louder groups who tend to drink more, he explained.

Bloostein brought about 100 antique beer steins from his collection of about 1,000, as well as photographs, antique frames and posters. The lampshades, bars, beer spouts and other odds and ends were found on his numerous scouting trips to antique fairs, he said.

Being surrounded by these reminders of the past "feels better and there's much better detail," said Bloostein, who added that "the quality of product in those days was very high," referring to the early 20th century.

In the back room, the official "beer hall," 10-ounce glasses sell for $6, 17.5-ounce glasses sell for $8, and 35-ounces run $16.

Despite the throwback feel, there are some modern elements like three big-screen TVs, Bloostein said. 

The chicken tikka masala wontons probably wouldn't have been found at pubs in those days, either. 

Bernheim & Schwartz opens every day at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, at midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays.