GRANT, Minn. (WCCO) — Now is the time of year when you can really satisfy your craving for schnitzel, bratwurst and Jagermeister.
Oktoberfest celebrations have already started — even though it’s still September — and one popular spot is still going strong, in spite of critics who said they’d never make it.
Almost from the moment Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter opened in 1966, critics questioned the owner’s sanity. It’s situated in a rural section of Washington County, about six miles northwest of Stillwater.
“A lot of people said, ‘That crazy German!'” said current owner Kim Quade. “‘What is he doing building a restaurant in the middle of nowhere?’ Literally when he did, there was nothing here.”
But, in fact, there was something important there: tall pines and rolling hills. German immigrant Karl Schoene felt an instant connection.
“This piece of property itself just reminded him of Bavaria,” Quade said.
Schoene’s dream, in building a Gasthaus on the property, was to make Minnesotans feel at home too, which he did until his death in 1988.
It’s now his daughter-in-law, Quade, carrying out his legacy after her husband, Karl Jr., passed away in 2003.
“I really try to honor the standards that they set and I really feel I need to carry on those things,” she said.
She now sees people who visited as kids returning with their own kids — and grandkids.
“It represents friendship and fun and celebrating tradition,” said Monique Oradnik.
“We had our wedding here in 1995,” said Heidi Ohr, “and so we come for all the festivals and we love the Santa brunch.”
But mixed in with the good times are stresses too, with the pressures to modernize and Americanize. Certain customers would rather have a Pabst than a Paulaner, or a steak rather than a schnitzel, but you won’t find those items on the menu.
“I don’t want to do that,” Quade said. “Whether it’s maybe a better business decision to do some of those things, I want to stick with tradition.”
It’s the memory of her father-in-law and husband that keep her standing firm. They said it wouldn’t last, 48 years ago, and it’s still doing just fine.
“You know, you can always tell a German, but you can’t tell him much,” said Quade. “So don’t tell him it can’t be done. It will be done.”
This year’s Oktoberfest at Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter attracted about 10,000 people over two weekends.
It’s over now, but there are plenty more places celebrating Oktoberfest in the coming weeks. Here’s a list.
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