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Hofbräuhaus coming to downtown Buffalo

Buffalo will soon willkommen a popular German beer hall to its city center.

Hofbräuhaus, the U.S. version of Bavaria’s 400-year-old famous original, hopes to have a Buffalo location by next summer.

Kevin Townsell, owner of Shannon Pub in Tonawanda, owns the local franchise rights for the restaurant and is putting together an investment group to get it funded.

“We’ve been working together on this for better than two years,” Townsell said.

Townsell said that the location has not been finalized but that the restaurant will be in downtown Buffalo, within walking distance of Canalside.

Plans call for a 600-seat traditional beer hall, with long wooden tables and benches. Servers wearing Bavarian-style dirndls and lederhosen will serve imported German beer from giant glass mugs. Musicians will perform live German music every night and many weekday afternoons. The menu will mostly feature traditional German dishes but also offer some local fare.

An outdoor biergarten will be capable of seating another 300 people.

Unlike other full-scale Hofbräuhaus locations, Buffalo’s will not brew beer on site, because its proposed location does not have enough room to add a brewery, Townsell said. Instead, it will serve Hofbräu products imported from Germany.

The original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany, opened in 1589. It’s an international tourist destination and is famous for its giant beer gardens and for having the largest tent at each Oktoberfest celebration.

Hofbräuhaus US has locations in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Las Vegas and Newport, Ky., near Cincinnati. Another $8.4 million location is set to open in downtown Cleveland this summer.

Hofbräuhaus looks for locations with strong German-American populations, nearby colleges and a good tourism base, according to Townsell. He plans to market the Buffalo location to amateur sports leagues, international tourists, Canadian shoppers and visiting groups traveling to Niagara Falls.

“Kevin did a good job convincing us that Buffalo would be a great location for a Hofbräuhaus,” said Fred Schumacher, president of Hofbräuhaus US.

Though Townsell is better known for his work with Irish pubs and for founding the Buffalo Irish Festival in 1982, he has also been very active running German festivals, beer-tastings and Oktoberfests since the 1980s.