America doesn’t know how to party. We spend 8 minutes eating our plastic dinners of bottled water and veggie burgers, usually while watching “Friends.” Now, look at Europe. They’ll spend all day with friends and family, gorging themselves on fine foods and clinking beer mugs together for hours, and then go back to work with cheeks as red as flesh balloons.
Nobody knows this better than Austrian-born entrepreneur Harald Neuweg, the owner of the freshly opened Fritz and Franz Bierhaus. He’s taken all of the essentials of an authentic Germanic bierhaus – beer, food, busty waitresses, sausages – and brought them to the usually humdrum, albeit glittery, stretch of Coral Gables dining known as Miracle Mile.
“This place should be a party every night,” says Neuweg, who has owned several restaurants in Miami over the past 23 years, including Satchmo’s Blues Bar. “We are going to turn this bierhaus into a 365 day-a-year Oktoberfest.”
Usually the dining crowd on Miracle Mile is drier than a milkless bowl of Oat Bran. Raised noses peer over the edges of menus in overpriced, snooty restaurants while stuffy suits sip chardonnays. But Neuweg, 43, just wants to see you get wasted off 32 ounce frozen mugs of Wolfsteiner and then get really full off massive plates of schnitzel and sausages.
Expect to eat and drink more than humanly possible, then be entertained while the scantily-clad waitresses dance on top of the firmly placed wooden table tops and benches. The entrees, which are authentic Austrian/Bavarian, range from $15.95 roasted pork shank platters to $12.95 heaping plates of Bierhaus wiener schnitzel, the restaurant’s signature dish.
“I grew up on this kind of food, so I’m cooking it the way that I like it, the way I know it,” explains Neuberg, who took the name Fritz and Franz from the popular “SNL” skit, “Hans and Franz.” “We don’t make any shortcuts. It’s made the way that it’s made over there in Austria.”
And there are lots of beers to choose from, obviously: check their selection of 30 different German bottled beers, but I think you’re better off chugging Warsteiner, the house beer on tap, out of a liter-sized mug. “If you can’t handle what we call a full beer, a liter, then you can have a giiiiirly beer,” he says in his best Hans imitation. “It’s only 12 ounces.”
I went on a Tuesday, which happened to be 2-for-1 schnitzel night. Sussy, our curvaceous waitress, brought us U-Boat-sized platters of fried pork, complete with potato salad and homemade cranberry sauce. Right after finishing the last of the schnitzel, Sussy came back with more 16-ounce mugs of cold Wolfsteiner and a sample platter of their sausages.
We finished those, sat back on our wooden benches and watched sports on the two plasma screen TVs and one giant big screen that hang on the wooden paneled walls next to vintage tubas and Bitburger beer banners.
I left feeling happier than Anne Frank, fuller than a concentration camp in 1943, and . . . alone.
But Sussy didn’t laugh when I said, “Now that I’ve eaten all of your sausages, why don’t you help me out with mine?”
Fritz and Franz Bierhaus is located at 60 Merrick Way, Coral Gables. Call 305-774-1883 for more info.
Kevin Dean can be reached at Biigdeano@aol.com.