Story in the Sacramento bee about the opening of Der Biergarten in Midtown Sacramento.
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2013 – 12:00 am
Sean Derfield plans to open his latest venture, Der Biergarten, at 2332 K St. in midtown Sacramento in late August, but he’s still reliving the year it took to get his project through the city’s design review process.
Der Biergarten will be a German beer garden, an outdoor venue where customers can come for sausages, potato cakes, sauerkraut and, of course, German and Belgian imports or a local beer brewed in the German style.
Derfield identified a vacant lot next to the Golden Bear, and he shared his vision for a beer garden with the man who would be his landlord, Thomas Roth. Derfield wanted to do something he’d seen in a number of cities around the world, including one 75 miles west of here.
“We were in San Francisco, and they have a project called the Proxy Project down there,” he told me, “and basically, that project was using cargo containers for a German beer garden, so what they do is they have a restaurant serving beer and food from these cargo units. So we said, ‘You know, that would probably work in Sacramento.’ ” Thom Roth bought into the idea of cargo containers that could be removed in five years or so, if he wanted to develop a more permanent project on the lot. Derfield said he also received a warm reception in preliminary meetings with the city’s design review team in October, but after he hired an architect and contractor and submitted renderings in January, the tone changed completely.
“They did not like it at all,” said Derfield, who owns the River City Saloon in Old Sacramento. “They said, ‘We cannot put cargo containers in the middle of Sacramento.’ ”
Attempts to reach city urban design manager Greg Taylor were not successful. City planners made suggestions that Derfield at first interpreted as optional.
“When we’d take it back,” Derfield said, “they’d say, ‘No, we really don’t like that. We suggest you change it and come back and see us again.’ So, after three times, we gave in to their wishes. If they had just told us the first time, ‘We’re not going to approve you unless you change this,’ but they didn’t.”
A stucco-like exterior will make it hard to recognize the structures as cargo containers, and patrons won’t be able to people-watch on the street. It’s not the funky, artsy feel that Derfield had envisioned, but he’ll be glad to open.