Wurstküche, a hit in California, seeks to woo Denver diners

Wurstküche, a Californian twist on the traditional German sausage grill and beer hall, plans to open Monday at the edge of Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.

“There’s no polka, but there will be DJs on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Tyler Wilson, who launched the first Wurstküche in 2008 in the Los Angeles Arts District with cousin Joseph Pitruzzelli.

The L.A. restaurant serves more than than 5,000 meals a week, and its success allowed the pair to expand, first to Venice Beach in 2011 and now Denver, at 2036 Broadway.

The craft focus at Wurstküche isn’t on the beer but rather the sausages. They range from a traditional bratwurst and bockwurst for $6, to gourmet offerings such as mango jalapeño with chicken and turkey for $7, to more exotic rattlesnake and rabbit or pheasant with herbs for $8.

The restaurant’s beer menu is filled with about 50 time-tested offerings from Germany and Belgium. The oldest comes from the Brewery Weihenstephan, where monks officially started brewing beer in 1040 but probably started back in the eighth century.

The dining hall is dominated by long tables designed to accommodate big groups, and televisions are notably absent.

Wilson, 28, and Pitruzzelli, 33, said their intent is to create a casual meeting space where people of all ages feel comfortable hanging out and conversing.

The restaurant can hold more than 200 inside, and an outdoor deck is in the works. The pair also plan to test a craft cocktail lounge concept in the building’s basement.

About three years ago, the cousins purchased the triangle-shaped building at Broadway and Stout Street. It once housed the Rockaway Tavern and, before that, the Triangle Lounge.

Initially, they planned to open in June, but contractor problems, including a collapsed wall and unpaid subcontractors, plagued the renovation.

June was pushed back to October, which was pushed back to February. But Wurstküche Denver was training its staff this week and is on track to open Monday.

Denver restaurant consultant John Imbergamo views beer halls as a branch of the larger gastropub trend, represented locally by places such as his client Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen, which has a German-influenced menu.

Their appeal to a new generation of diners is more about pairing tasty and varied foods with beer rather than a revival in central European cuisine.

“I don’t think anybody is going out and thinking German cuisine is a huge trend. It is these beer halls that are a huge trend,” he said, emphasizing the beer in beer halls.

Like most restaurant trends, local entrepreneurs planted the first offerings, as represented by Larimer Associates’ Lowry Beer Garden and Green Valley Ranch Beer Garden.

The next wave are out-of-state entrepreneurs and chain offerings, places such as Wurstküche and Rhein Haus, a Bavarian-themed beer hall restaurant out of Seattle that plans to take over the space on 14th and Market streets once occupied by Old Chicago.

Even longtime Denver restaurateur Kevin Taylor plans to provide his take on the beer-hall theme in the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora.

Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410, asvaldi@denverpost.com or twitter.com/aldosvaldi20150218__20150219_A10_BZ19BEERHALLS3-p1 (Copy)

Source: The Denver Post