My wife and I tried to enjoy a beer and a bite at this postiche Czech “beer hall” last week. We had been drawn by the place’s website description:
“The Queen Anne Beerhall brings an authentic beer hall experience to Seattle. It is a tradition that Europeans have enjoyed for centuries - communal tables where friends and strangers mingle in a lively, friendly atmosphere, energized by a regular schedule of live music. The establishment features a 7,000 square foot hall, 25 premium draft beers and over 50 bottles. The bar offers unique cocktails made with in-house prepared syrups and shrubs. The menu includes classic beer hall fare with Pacific Northwest influences. Don’t miss perfectly executed staples such as soft Bavarian pretzel, wiener schnitzel and a variety of grilled sausages with sauerkraut. The Queen Anne Beerhall is a place to gather, to experience incredible food, music and community.”
My wife is Czech, and I am part German, so we looked forward to a communal experience comparable to what we’ve enjoyed in Europe–friends and strangers mingling in entertainment and great beer.
Unfortunately, not only did we NOT have the experience the website claimed, we were subjected to outright hostility and demeaned by our server. Perhaps most disturbingly, we were shown that the “communal” place where “friends and strangers mingle” is in reality just a ruse.
Upon entry, we observed the place was half empty, meaning many of the long tables were vacant. The first several of these tables had prominent “Reserved” signs. When we found one that didn’t, we took seats. We were immediately accosted (and rather brusquely) by a female server who told us (a) that table was reserved; (b) all the approximately 7 other vacant tables were reserved; and © the ONLY places we could sit were at the bar or outside (in the 90±degree heat). When I pointed out that we picked an un-reserved table, the server rolled her eyes like we were burdening her, and said–unbelievably: “People pay good money to reserve these tables, so you have to move.” When I asked her if our money wasn’t also good, she just folded her arms and tapped her foot, as if to say “Get out before the police arrive!” Flabbergasted, we did as we all now wanted: we left. On the Bum’s Rush out of there, we noticed that virtually all the other patrons who had been seated appeared to be groups of young corporate team-builders.
So much for authenticity, friendliness, tradition, communal tables, mingling, etc. I have never been to a beer hall anywhere that reserves most (if not all) of its tables for insular corporate groups to the exclusion of other patrons. We were made to feel small, insignificant, and unwanted. Our experience was the complete antithesis of their Warm Welcome and mission statement on the website.
When I contacted the manager later, I was given a rote apology, and an offer of a free beer. I am wondering why I would want to go back if the “community” isn’t one, the servers are passive/aggressive enforcers, and my money isn’t good enough.
PS This is too bad, because the ownership obviously sunk a lot of money into a quality build-out with much potential. Anyone who’s been to a real beer hall in Europe will be sorely disappointed here.