549 East Bay Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29403
“WE’RE ALL ABOUT COMMUNITY. OUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND LIFT UP LOCAL BUSINESSES, CHARITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS, BEER AND NON-BEER RELATED ALIKE.”-Bay Street Biergarten
Formerly the location of Arizona Grill and Boathouse Restaurant, has been renovated into the trendy Bay Street Biergarten. The “high-tech” Biergarten uses innovative technology towards its outstanding service, bringing Charleston the best the beer industry has to offer. Ryan, Owner, says it took about a year to create the restaurant with all of its carefully planned details and states that “this is just what Charleston needed.”
I was surprisingly impressed with the Bay Street Biergarten in its entirety, despite the sketchy surroundings. When we first arrived, the parking lot – YES, THE FREE PARKING LOT – was already packed and as a result, there was a wait list to be seated. We should have been on a guest list as members of Press, but the staff delivered! After we received our “over 21” wristbands from the bouncer, the hostess had a table cleaned right away and our high-tech Beirgarten adventure was on!
The menu was slightly hard to read outside on the patio, distinctly called, the Garten. I was hoping to sit the Garten, obviously, but the single strands of Christmas lights did not help me choose my menu items. The ambiance was awesome, so pull out your cell phone or flashlight. You may not even need it because your speedy server will have an iPad in hand from which he/she will take your order. With the iPad system, orders can be placed instanteaously, the servers can view seating charts, and look up menu prices, making your dining experience smoother. There is no excuse for mistakes with this system!
After settling in with our delicious, strongly concocted recommended cocktails, we toured the interior. The Décor is perfect and suits Charleston well. It’s classy, yet youthful still used the Christmas lights to illuminate the word BIER directly above the “Bier Wall.” I love the “Barely the Bear” theme and the fact that they use the term “Washrooms” instead of restrooms.
I mistakenly had eaten earlier and could not handle hefty German food but an appetizer should also impress! And, it did! Shawn, who taught us to use the bier wall in our video interview, commented on my entrée choice: The Freaky Fries. He explained that he and the Chef would eat cheese fries late at night after beers and brainstormed on how Its like cheese fries for adults! The Pig Wings were also recommended to us by a Hostess at the merchandise table.
Overall, this is a FANTASTIC place to eat and drink! Like a little taste of Europe downtown Charleston. I was elated to read they are decently priced AND have a parking lot which their liquor license allows you to wander into with bier in hand. I honestly hadn’t the slightest clue what to expect. I imagined a backyard party with possibly C of C redneck frat hoarding the place. I was overwhelmed to find a romantic ambiance, sophisticated atmosphere, and friendly, professional staff. You must visit The Bay Street Biergarten, it really is just what Charleston was missing! The Biergarten will win Charleston Food & Beverage Awards and your heart!
Just don’t stand on Barley, he might bite! Check out This Video of the Grand Opening!
Interview with Laura Patrick Owner/CMO
The Bay Street Biergarten is located smack dab in the middle of Historic Charleston. Can you share a little bit of the building’s History?
This is straight from the website, but sums it up pretty well: “Once called the Wilmington Railroad Depot, the building that now houses Bay Street Biergarten, was violently destroyed in an 1864 Civil War explosion. As confederate soldiers planned to evacuate Charleston on February 18, they loaded the depot with weapons and supplies to ensure nothing was left for the descending union soldiers. Despite their best efforts, a storehouse on the grounds of the depot was filled with gunpowder and set on fire. A trail of gunpowder led to the Wilmington Depot, where over 200 civilians still inside were killed. While the Biergarten represents the future of Charleston’s booming food and beverage industry, it is inextricably also tied to Charleston’s history. We have honored the Holy City’s past and future by maintaining the historically significant building’s bones, which were reconstructed in the late 1800′s. The 7,400 square-foot property will now house a state-of-the-art tap system, kitchen, a full-service bar and a sprawling outdoor seating area, but train whistles heard from the nearby port are a constant reminder of the buildings history.”
In addition to that the building was reconstructed to be a railroad station once again. In the eighties it became Arizona’s (a tex-mex themed bar) with the infamous snake bar, then the boathouse after that, and the rice market for about six months. Overall it’s a beautiful building that has a lot of rich history and we really wanted to make sure the original features of the building remained intact, such as the wide open space, the gorgeous wooden floors and the exposed brick.
Being from Charleston and coming from a family that is so heavily involved in historic preservation, it was really important to showcase the original structure and avoid cluttering the building with anything besides beer related design and the tap tables, of course.
This is the first “high-tech” Biergarten in Charleston, what makes it high-tech?
Well, for one, the tap tables and the beer wall. The system we have is custom made for our building and there is no system like it. The software for the system is very advanced and we’ve integrated it with a Mac based POS system that is also ahead of its time. Servers actually carry iPads instead of written checks, so while your server is taking your order, it’s being directly sent to the bar and/or kitchen. In addition to that, our beer wall, tap table booths and communal tables have iPads at the table that provide you with information about the beer and allows you to see the history of the beer you’ve already consumed. I think the biggest technological advancement is our beer card system, which allows you to preload a card and purchase beer without the help of a server from the beer wall and communal tables. It really gives you the opportunity to experience everything in a totally new way. You can chose what you want to pour on your own and it educates the costumer through the technology. In addition, we partner with People Matter, an online HR firm that uses the newest technology to control your staffing and HR. Our goal is to streamline the customer experience with all of this new technology, but like with anything that is new and “progressive,” there are still kinks to work out and a slight learning curve on everyone’s part.
Due to the Bavarian influence, I must ask if the owners have Bavarian heritage.
None of us have direct Bavarian heritage, however I am an Austrian descendant. My great grandfather came to America to find a better life, but there are so many values we hold dear from that area of the world. They focus on community and doing things for the greater good. All of the owners support those ideals and knew Charleston which is inherently a community focused area, would really appreciate the concept.
How is the Biergarten revolutionizing the Charleston Food & Beverage scene?
Well, we can say we’re revolutionizing things all we want, but whether we do or not will be more apparent in the next few years. We really just want to bring the charleston food and bev industry into the 21st century. When I saw the Atlanta airport using iPad minis with credit card swipers, I knew there was no reason why we shouldn’t be able to implement the same system here. Our goal is to streamline the customer experience, so that we can spend more time educating the consumer. We want people to have a real experience, as opposed to just the regular “grab a beer and go” situation. We want people to really understand how the brewing process works and feel like they have the brewery feel in a restaurant/bar.
What do you think this will bring to the public?
I think it will bring something that we just haven’t had in Charleston yet. It’s a bar that not only has pretty much everything you could want (beer, liquor, wine, great food and an amazing atmosphere), but also aims to educate the public about craft beer and the technology that is now available to make it an amazing personal experience. We’re not just a bar, we’re a destination. In addition, we want people to have the communal experience you would find in a traditional biergarten. People love to mingle, teach each other what they know and share the experience together.
With taps available at the table, how will underage drinking be monitored and pricing be regulated?
The system is monitored via the software. Customers have a set consumption limit of 32 ounces and once that is reached the servers and bartenders establish whether a patron is too intoxicated to continue to pour themselves more alcohol. It really is more safe than a normal system, because we aren’t just obligated to make sure a patron is too intoxicated but required to check on their level of intoxication. We heavily promote responsible drinking and do everything we can do reduce drunk driving, including a stationary taxi service, bicycle promotion and using services such as pedi cabs and designated driver programs.
How many different imported beers do you offer?
We have over 20 imported beers but we really want to showcase local beers. Our beer list is always changing and we want to make sure we’re providing our patrons with the beers they request. As much as we want to have a huge imported selection, it’s important to us to support our local brewers and distillers.
Will Bay Street Biergarten have a “beer club” of sorts?
Yes, After a few weeks we’ll institute a set in stone loyalty program. For now, we’re trying to focus on making the experience as excellent for the patrons as possible. A loyalty program is the next thing big think we plan to roll out.
Will local artwork be displayed?
We are all for showcasing local artwork, but it will have to be in line with our decor. We support all community efforts, artwork included, but our goal is to show off the space and it’s historical significance. We are already showcasing custom constructed work from Casey Lillie of Striped Pig (such as the ingredient boxes on the exposed brick and all of the outdoor furniture) and we don’t want to take away from that.
What kind of activities are set up outside?
We have an excellent outdoor patio space that also has a full turfed corn-hole bocce court, as well as giant jenga. In the future we hope to have many bocce and corn-hole tournaments, as well as any other parking lot events we can accommodate.
What sort of events are going to be hosted here? Are there any events taking place soon?
A lot of beer dinners and classes, as well as events with our affiliates, such as crisis ministries and the stray dog society.
Three words that describe the overall experience of Bay Street Biergarten:
“Adult Disney Land ” Haha but for real … If you don’t want no use that “communal, educational, fun”
|GRAND OPENING|The Bay Street Biergarten+InterviewW/RYAN WORKMAN
WHERE WE STAND MAGAZINE, Was There to Cover it ALL! Tag Your Photos!!, Like and Share With Your Friends! Make Sure You Party With #BayStreetBiergartens Again