Back in 2011, restaurateur James Weimann was headed to Canon for a few drinks with Alan Macleod, who runs the eponymous Ballard bar Weimann opened with business partner Deming Maclise. In hunting for a place to park, the two got completely sidetracked by an intriguing, warehouselike building at 912 12th Ave. It was literally business (furniture store) up front and a party (hookah bar) in the back.
Flash forward a year and Weimann and Maclise (also the guys behind Bastille, Poquitos, and the forthcoming Stoneburner) are transforming the soaring, 80-year-old, 10,000-square-foot space into a 420-sesat German-style beer hall called Von Trapp’s. Which will also have five indoor bocce ball courts. Hey, people—when the nations of Europe opened up their borders to one another, you knew there would be unintended consequences.
The duo say the beer hall idea had been floating around for the past five years, even before Bastille. The bocce component came from recent inspirational visits to Campo di Bocci, a pair of Bay Area establishments that bring the Italian lawn game indoors, with pizza. “Indoor leisure sports make perfect sense while it’s raining,” says Weimann.
If lawn games aren’t your thing, Von Trapp’s has an impressive food and beverage program in the works. Longtime Bastille sous chef Pete Fjosne completed an arduous two-week research trip to Munich and is coming over to execute a menu of housemade sausages, pickles, sauerkraut, and Germanic entrees like weinerschnitzel and sauerbraten. Weimann and Maclise purchased a machine by the colorful name of Buffalo Chopper that can emulsify meat to the consistency of a hot dog, or do any other type of grind. Pretzels will be baked in-house as well.
Twenty-four taps (and a cask) will dispense a mix of West Coast craft beers and European brews. Doug Wargo of Quinn’s will manage the bar, which will even have a growler filling station so neighborhood residents can take at-home advantage of the rotating beer selection. Also exciting: Bastille bar manager Erik Carlson is desiging the cocktail list, and about half will be beer-based libations. That makes for a nice addition to a burgeoning restaurant row already rich in good drinks.
Oh, and “We’re going crazy on the décor, of course,” says Weimann. You know, typical stuff—Viennese chandeliers and fireplaces, bistro walls from Salzburg, and massive Belgian wood doors and paned windows Weimann and Maclise found in Munich on a whirlwind European tour. Much like the meat, the taxidermied elk heads are sourced locally. A small side room with a stately fireplace (one of three in the whole place) is a more intimate alternative to the main room. The long beer hall-style tables dominating that space were built by Metis Construction, a firm that has also become accustomed to Weimann and Maclise returning from foreign countries with giant antiquities that must be made sturdy enough to withstand interaction with hundreds of tipsy people a week. Architect Amoreena Miller also did Ethan Stowell’s Rione XIII, and conceived of the two mezzanines that add more than 80 seats. The staircase railings are from the former McCaw mansion in Medina.
Much like Stoneburner and Macleod’s, Weimann and Maclise are taking successful members of their existing restaurant ecosystem and making them partners in the new enterprise. Rich Fox and Dustin Watson, managing partners at Poquitos, will be running the show here, with an assist from Poquitos operations guy and partner Matt Fundingsland.
Von Trapp’s will also have Skee-Ball, shuffleboard, and two outdoor bocce courts are planned for the spring. Groups can reserve the courts and staff members can help if you’re not exactly sure how this game works.
Look for a late January opening. Meanwhile, track developments here.