Fall is the busiest season for The Dakota Inn-Rathskeller, an old-fashioned German beer hall and restaurant located just north of Highland Park on Detroit's east side. For the past 30 years, the Dakota has captured the American fascination with Germany's best-known autumn harvest celebration, Oktoberfest.
Every year, the restaurant piles patrons into the hall to raise frothy glasses of beer amongst friends while live bands play traditional tunes. Guests pair suds with hearty plates of vinegary sauerbraten, kasespatzle, beer-simmered sausages, and other German classics churned out of the kitchen.
The Dakota Inn's history goes back much farther than its Oktoberfest, though. The bar was founded in 1933 by Karl Kurz, an autoworker born just outside the Bavarian region of Germany. The restaurant today is still owned by the Kurz family — now in its third generation — and features traditional dark wood furnishings and hand-painted artwork. Staff also wear kitschy dirndls and lederhosen.
Reservations fill up fast during the Oktoberfest season, but the restaurant delivers the same spirit of conviviality year-round with weekend singalongs and live musicians. Photographers Chris and Michelle Gerard visited The Dakota Inn on a Friday in September to capture the chicken hat-wearing fall festivities. Check out the scene in the gallery below.