When Johann “Hans” and Philipp Sitter started their first business venture, they had no idea what they were doing – mostly. They opened up a hand-wash car wash, and passed out free beer and bratwurst to customers, even without permits – because they didn’t know any better.
Today, however, they do know better – with their second bier garden concept opening this month in Shady Acres, King’s BierHaus.
The father-and-son duo are from Vienna, Austria – transplanting to the states in 1996. The two came over with restaurant, butchery, and vineyard knowledge – all crafts for their family name.
The two came over with an idea to share their culture and make a buck, the Houston permit system just welcomed them with (probably) a couple of fines.
Lessons learned, the Sitters went to work.
“It was our dream to make a little bratwurst stand, or shack for the customers at the car wash,” Philipp Sitter said. “My dad and I raised money by selling classic cars, got a loan and built a 45 seat shack that was called King’s Biergarten. It was just supposed to be something for the customers to grab a brat and beer while getting their car washed.”
The shack started with a word document menu that had photos and accompanied descriptions, something Sitter notes that wasn’t supposed to be serious.
Then came the fan following.
In a four year span, the shack expanded into a concept 13 times, investing into the business to match the needed growth – expanding the menu, beer list, and offerings.
“Our expansion took us from 45 seats to 350 plus seats,” Sitter said. “This is year six and a half for us, and we’ve added on King’s BierHaus, which is a sister concept to the Biergarden. The difference is [King’s BierHaus] is more modern, more fusion, more open beer house seating options, and the ordering style is different.”
King’s BierHaus’ Giant Beer Pretzel; Liptauer Spread; Vienna Goulash; Oma’s Famous Fried Chicken; a four flight tasting Andechs Doppelbock, Weltenburger Asamback, Andechs Weissbierhell, and Vitus; the Bier Chocolate gelato; the Apple Strudel; and two outside looks of King’s outdoor patio (photos by Christina Martinez).
From the menu, Sitter explains items being all based from family recipes that date back for decades. A few standout items that lead more on the traditional side are the Giant Beer Pretzel, Liptauer Spread, Oma’s Fried Chicken and the Vienna Goulash.
Sitter also mentions the term “fusion” and by this means there’s something on the menu for just about anyone, even those who don’t feel like trying something German – a Greek salad, pretzel grilled cheese, burger, sausage plate, or even loaded fries.
Behind the bar, there are 31 taps and 26 of those taps are German beers; four being from German monastery breweries; two German beers that King’s has exclusive rights to sell – Weltenburger Dopplebock and Andechs Weissbier Dunkel. There are also German and Austrian wines on the menu, or wines from the states on tap. There is a full bar for cocktails, and even a strong schnapps program – with schnapps flights readily available. And if you’re feeling beer-adventurous, a 2.5 Liter beer called “Das Boot,” yes you get to keep the boot.
For dessert, only two things are listed and for reason. The first being house made strudel with two options: apple and cream cheese. The next offering being gelato, hand-made by Hans himself.
“[My dad] makes all of his gelatos from scratch, it’s hilarious to watch,” Sitter said. He turns on Italian music while he makes them. He wanted to make them himself, so he went to California for two weeks to a creamery to learn how.”
When it comes to sharing their culture, Sitter said his family is not a purist in any sense. In fact, he said they are trying to show a modern version of their culture, even if that makes them cliché.
“We’re playing up to the clichés because we enjoy it,” he said. “We’re very cliché in everything we do.”