Initially, developer Scott Shapiro envisioned a space on lower Queen Anne to match his Capitol Hill project, Melrose Market—a bunch of artisans and restaurants under one roof.
But after a year of trying to find qualified and interested vendors, it’s been revealed that a single occupant has snatched up the entire 7,000-square-foot space.
Andrej Ivanov, a big name in the east coast beer hall game, is turning the old Cotton Caboodle manufacturing facility at 203 W. Thomas into a beer hall with a separate 400-square foot beer garden (biergarten) outside. It will be called the Queen Anne Beer Hall.
"As soon as I walked in, I knew this was going to be the spot," says Ivanov, who opened Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn back in 2007. He subsequently sold it to his partner before opening Pilsener Haus in Hoboken, New Jersey in 2010.
Seattle will be his first west coast operation. His brother and sister-in-law, Lubomir and Jana Katrusin, both live in Seattle and will be managing partners.
"I'm quite confident we can do a great job," Ivanov tells me. "We can enhance your beer I.Q., so to speak, in Seattle."
This news comes at an interesting time. Just yesterday, Seattle’s mega beer hall Von Trapp’s announced that it has changed its name to Rhein Haus to avoid confusion with the Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont.
During my lengthy phone call this morning with Ivanov (who is trying to pull off this new project from his home in New Jersey), I certainly got the sense that major rivalry was involved in his decision to bring his beer hall idea to Seattle.
“So far, we’ve opened the most authentic places on the east coast. We've been copycatted everywhere. Sometimes it's almost comical just seeing those places in Philly, Albany, Boston. We started the whole beer hall revolution in 2007 and then just watched these places mushroom everywhere.”
He credits the team behind Von Trapp’s with having a great place, but in his eyes, he knows how to do it even better. “You can’t manufacture the soul of a place. We know how to execute and pay attention to every detail."
The core of the Queen Anne Beer Hall is going to be very straightforward, according to Ivanov, reminiscent of an old European brewery from the early 1900s—something you’d find in Austria or the Czech Republic, where hundreds of breweries have been functioning for hundreds of years. There will also be Northwest elements thrown in, specifically mountains. “We’re going to have a room resembling an old climbers room and it's going to be some kind of fusion between west coast climbing traditions and the Alps.” Inside, a major industrial feel with lots of metal, steel and concrete. Ivanov admits it’s hard to define, but says it's going to be really authentic and that presentation is half the game. “That's our strength.”
Ivanov hasn’t found a chef yet, but he says great attention will be paid to the food, which he admits he’s “obsessed” with. “The food is something that most beer halls are lacking. You don't expect great food in a beer hall.”
He describes the menu as essential European food with as strong German twist, along with "really great west coast Seattle organic items, because you guys have great food on the west coast. People are really conscious about what they eat there.”
The brew will be a large cross section of craft and imported beers. Ivanov understands the strong craft scene here on the west coast and he's adamant this new place will appeal to every age of beer drinker.
Best case scenario, this new gigantic beer hall will open before new year, February at the latest.