It was 11.00 exactly one morning in June 1976, when Gerry (Hector hadn’t been born yet…) and Archie entered the Kaufhof at Karlsplatz-Stachus in München. The ‘Europe on $10 a day’ guide assured us that cheap food would be available on the top floor restaurant at that time. A beautifully mature lady in a traditional Bayerische outfit asked us if we would like a bier? Minutes later, two perfect half litres of Löwenbräu were presented. After the disappointment of a Köln ‘test-tube’ the day before, this was a resounding improvement. The bier went down, the rest is history. The same evening we entered the largest Bierhalle on the planet, so the guide said: The Mathäser Bierstadt (Bayerstrasse 5).
There was a Schnell Imbiss at the door then a long corridor with tables and chaps enjoying the Helles. An enclosed restaurant was to the left, then the serving area at the end of the room with stairs up to the right. A bier garden was visible…and occasionally the strains of music were audible in the distance: no need to explore. It was in 1978 when we returned to access the main Festhalle, we had never strayed from the entrance hall in all the 1976 visits. We had to be told! (thanks, Sam) This became the München tradition, you find something you like, stick with it. Alternatively there was the Hofbräuhaus (Am Platzl), the Löwenbräu Helles was significantly better than the Hofbräu, but over the years a taste for Dunkles was developed and the Hofbräuhaus won this contest; however as a bier hall it was definitely number two. The Mathäser, was huge, it was a party, even in the afternoons. 1450 Sitzplätze was the official seating in the main hall, the smaller rooms added the same again. By nightfall it was wedged but the big advantage was – you could see the band from the majority of the hall. In the afternoons, Theo and Reinhold would play alone, when the full band played in the evening it was sublime. Sometime in 1997 the Mathäser closed. How could this happen? This left the Hofbrauhaus as the only place guaranteed to play ‘the musik’. It had become apparent that what was the bier hall for the locals had been catering more and more for tourists. The blocking of the seats at the stage for the daily parade of Japanese/Korean bus tours – having one litre, a chicken and chips, one’s photo then out – was not a good development. The Macarena, every hour on the hour… this was meant to be better than the Oktoberfest! And so Hector arrived in the Hofbräuhaus one evening in 1997 to find Reinhold Frank playing with his own band! I returned in April 2001 with Marg – her first visit – with some photographs of ‘the old days’. Reinhold was touched, he has had his photograph taken every day of his working life, but he never gets to see them. I had given him photos of chaps that were no longer around. In 2010 he plays upstairs in the cabaret hall on a Monday and downstairs in the main hall on a Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Ausschanks of München et al