BratBrot 2.0

The cool beer garden concept reopens with expanded offerings.

Written by Joe O’Donnell • Photography by Beau Gustafson

For David Carrigan the concept of Brät Brot started with the 6th Avenue South building itself. Once Libby Rich’s Plant Odyssey store, the building with its stonework, airy interior and greenhouse spaces came together in Carrigan’s mind as the perfect setting for an authentic German beer garden.

So that’s what he created, opening Brät Brot last spring.

After a temporary shutdown and time spent re-thinking the concept, the restaurant re-opened this spring with expanded menu and bar offerings, as well as changes to the operational style of the restaurant.

Judging by the crowds, Brät Brot version 2.0 is a hit for Carrigan, who also owns the popular Carrigan’s Public House on Morris Avenue, as well as landscaping and stone masonry businesses.

Trained in graphic design and brought up in the strong work ethic of the construction business, Carrigan brings a creative sensibility and a belief in research and visioning to his projects. That was certainly the case with BratBrot, which translated from the German means meat and bread.

“Brät Brot was space driven and location driven with a feel and vibe that came out of the vision I had for it in my head,” Carrigan says. He loves the Southside and Highland Park areas of the city, having lived there as a student.

“We did some crazy research and deep dives into German culture and beer gardens to really try to dial the concept into the right thing for this area,” he says.

In the first iteration, while popular, the Carrigan team felt that they had to retool the concept to better fit Birmingham.

“We made some decisions that we thought were good ideas that just didn’t work. So being able to realize that those weren’t working and hit the pause button was extremely beneficial,” he says. As was the substantial feedback Carrigan received through surveys of customers.

“We got over 1,800 survey responses and we read through every single one of them.”

The results, Carrigan says, showed the concept was too limited for the size of the building and the size of the market. They solved that problem by expanding the food offerings and creating the full bar, thought there is still an emphasis on German beer. Even the seating concept was rearranged to create more tables and wait staff was added to enhance service. And the restaurant became a 21 and older facility. They even added a Friday late-night brunch

“It’s really a combination of refining interior space, broadening the menu and broadening the drink selections, and then operationally just managing the flow better.”

The new Brät Brot is an exciting place to spend an evening. Visually the high ceilings, comfortable seating and outdoor spaces create an experience unlike anything in the city.

New executive chef Angela Schmidt, most recently of El ZunZun, has broadened the menu to include items like Currywurst, sliced bratwurst over garten fries, curry ketchup, and garlic dijon mayo. Carrigan sees the strength of combining the German core of the cuisine while adding American, German-Jewish deli and Southern comfort foods to enhance the menu and the experience. •

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