After a couple of modest starts during the pandemic, Midtown’s outdoors-only Stadt Garten has returned just in time for the summer season. Set in the garden of an 1880s Gothic-Victorian mansion at Second and Alexandrine, the German wine and beer garden offers guests 50 wines from Germany, Austria, and other regions, as well as more than a dozen German beers — all available for ordering through a window.
Stadt Garten’s launch is more than two years in the making, having evolved organically from once-a-week service on the property’s front porch, to adding a window where guests could order from outside. This year, owner Mark Beard says Stadt Garten (city garden in German) has expanded its hours and days of operation and will be open year-round. To eat, guests will also be able to select from a brief menu of snacks and food trucks as they expand their service offerings throughout the summer.
“I’ve learned so much over the past two years and am excited for what’s to come,” says Beard. “The experience will grow and change weekly. New products and menu offerings will be served with a side of new framing and electric.”
In addition to being more reliably open, Beard is working to renovate the interior of the building for eventual indoor dining. The indoor renovations include new electric, light-frame construction to build out a small prep kitchen and retail bottle shop. Stadt Garden will remain open on its full-season patio throughout the construction period.
Beverage director Jarred Gild, formerly at Western Market, says his approach to purchasing products is to learn right alongside guests on many wines and beers being introduced into the market for the first time.
Gild says that his approach to buying wine is to focus on underrepresented regions to keep prices affordable and to educate guests. For example, he says that most consumers locally tend to think of the super sweet Riesling grape typically grown in Michigan which is the opposite of the dry German grape.
“In Germany, the wine they drink is mostly dry and fruity off-dry wines and traditional lager beers. There’s such a diversity in the German landscape and throughout central Europe, and we’re excited to take people on that journey, says Gild. “Most of what we purchase is outside of the core knowledge of what many wine connoisseurs know. German wine labels and knowledge can be intimidating. So we’re presenting them in a casual setting, purchasing what’s affordable and high quality, and offering a diverse set of styles. We’re excited to experience them and learn about them together.”
Stadt Garten was inspired by a trip to Germany that Beard took with his friend Ryan Patrick Hooper (host of WDET’s Culture Shift) in 2015.
“We went to Oktoberfest and did the traditional aspects of a Germany tour,” says Beard. “But what I remember most was the casual amazingness of a Coca-Cola cooler at the back of a doner kebab place, holding what seemed like over thirty German beers that had been brewed since the 1300s. I knew nothing about those beers, which made me reflect on my German heritage. My Opa came over in the 1920s, and the need to assimilate was so intense that we lost all of it in pursuit of the American dream. I’m learning more about German culture through the products we’re offering from the window. I’m learning right alongside the customer. It’s my effort to reclaim some of that heritage and offer the community to join me.”
Stadt Garten also adds a layer of walkability for dining and drinking in Midtown. It shares the same building as Castalia at Sfumato (a tiny cocktail bar and perfumery that operates in the basement of the property) and is just a short stroll from other food and drink destinations in the area, including Selden Standard, Mongers Provisions, Seasons, Cold Truth, and La Feria.
Stadt Garten is open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and is located at 3980 Second Ave.