Harlan Haus to bring Euro Beer Hall experience to downtown Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT —Bridgeport is weeks away from the grand opening of Harlan Haus as owner Stephen Lewandowski prepares to create a new social hub inside the former People’s Bank building.
Beer, meat, and a good time will all be a part of the experience Lewandoski said he envisioned for the 7,000 square-foot German beer hall when it opens on Jan. 10 at 155 State St.
“I think all towns tend to have one meeting place where people talk politics, talk about sports, talk about their families and stuff like that,” he said. “Coming in here it was important for us to make it a social, lively, fun experience.”
Since coming to Connecticut in 2012, Lewandowski said he has taken an interest in opening brick and mortars and contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods along the coast.
He owns Harlan Social in Stamford and Harlan Publick in Norwalk and said he was ready to make his way down I-95 when he found the historic bank location in the heart of downtown Bridgeport.
“When I walked into the space I loved the building itself,” he said. “I loved the history of it. I loved the size of it. The first thing that I saw was an old kind of German beer hall or European beer hall with just bunches of people together having a good time socializing.”
Inside the bank’s sizable lobby and high-rise ceiling, customers can sit at small table with their friends or at one of the large picnic tables where they can socialize with other customers, much like the beer halls overseas.
While the development is billed as a German beer hall, Lewandowski said there will be more than just German food served as he looks to capture the essence of a classic European-style beer hall in the Park City.
Customers can order their food through a server or they can take a trip to the wurst and sausage bar where they can get a range of meats from Chorizo and classic bratwurst to a wagyu hotdog.
The eatery will also offer entrée items and classic German dishes like wine-marinated short rib sauerbraten.
“You’re going to have a lot of different things, and like all our restaurants we listen to the customer, so after a week or after two weeks if somebody’s looking for something that we don’t have and if there’s a lot of call for something, then we’ll adapt to that,” Lewandowski said.
The beer hall will also feature a bar area that will feature a sound system and TV set up in the center of the room, along with a game room.
“There’s going to be some traditional German games like Hammerschlagen, but we’ll also have some arcade games,” said Brett Wilderman, principal at Darien-based Forstone Capital. “It’s kind of another fun area in the project for big kids and little kids alike.”
As projects like the Stress Factory Comedy Club and the amphitheater approach, Lewandowski said he wants Harlan Haus to be one aspect of a larger experience that the he and city officials are looking to bring to the downtown Bridgeport.
“That’s very exciting what’s going on over there,” said Thomas Gill, economic development director for the city. “Keeping in mind Forstone has a lot of investment in downtown Bridgeport already and this is just an expansion in their investment. The fact that they are taking these historic buildings and preserving them—they are very good at doing that—and turning them into active entertainment restaurant-type of facilities is just fantastic for downtown.”