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Friday, June 14, 2024

Last August, I was working in Cologne, Germany, when I approached the hostess stand of an outdoor drinking area and asked, in my best possible German, “Ist das ein Biergarten?” (Worth noting: I speak terrible German.)

The hostess took a step backward and blinked several times, and then frowned. Then she started laughing at me. When she finished, in nearly perfect English she said, “I’m sorry, but what are you trying to ask?”

Last Saturday, I relived this experience when I went to Midtown’s The Swamp to sample their own take on the German classic, the Beer Garden.

The Swamp’s Beer Garden, “The Green Gator,” had its grand opening March 14 and featured an array of crafted beers and special sausage dishes to “please our palates” and to “enhance the flavors of their special brews.”

When I approached the hostess stand and asked to be seated in the Beer Garden, she blinked like she was trying to get sand out of her eyes and said, “I’m sorry, but what are you talking about?”

Now, I’m not a business expert, but I imagine a good rule of thumb for any establishment is to make sure your employees know when there’s been a grand opening. I would recommend they also know A. what’s grand B. what opened.

Thinking the Beer Garden had, perhaps, been a one-time event, I asked to be seated to the hostess’s whimsy, and my company and I were then brought to an outdoor patio.

When I asked our waitress about the Beer Garden, I received my second perplexed look of the evening. She said, “Oh, you’re sitting in it.” When I asked if I could see the menu for their new beer selection, she said, “You know, they didn’t tell me either.”

Which brings me to my third business suggestion: C. If you’re running a restaurant, your staff should know the menu.

When I asked if any of the new menu items were available, she said, “I looked for them earlier, but I couldn’t find them” — a coincidence because neither could I. I asked her for what the bartender would consider their best new beer, and I ordered tuna, not German sausage, which came out with no silverware, so I then had to wait to eat it.

I stared at my beer, and I stared at my tuna, and I suddenly missed Germany very much.

As a writer, I would like to tell you more about the Beer Garden, but from my experience, no one seems to know about it — not even the people who work there. So, here’s what I can tell you:

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1. The new outdoor patio area is actually very nice.

2. There is a nice new selection of beers to choose from, albeit a little pricy. Quality never killed anyone.

3. I wouldn’t call the Beer Garden a beer garden. I would call it a patio.

Although it is a very nice patio, it is still connected to The Swamp. Until an actual beer garden opens in the greater Gainesville area, I’ll see you at Stubbies & Steins, which is the closest thing we have so far. Prost!

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