With its quirky European charm, classic German food and festive beer garden, Kurt’s and Vreny’s in Duluth was a longtime neighborhood favorite.
In 2012, though, German immigrants Kurt and Vreny Eisele, and their chef son, Alexander, decided that they would relocate and downsize.
They opened the new, much more intimate Kurt’s Euro Bistro on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and it has been going strong since.
Old favorites, such as potato pancakes, wienerschnitzel with spatzle, and German sausages from New York’s Schaller & Weber, are still on the menu. But, you’ll find starters, salads, seafood and steaks, too, including a 22-ounce bone-in rib-eye.
Since March, curbside pickup has become a major part of the mix, with most items available for takeout. And, these days, Alexander has assumed the title of general manager, while his parents keep a lower profile.
With the help of the Paycheck Protection Program, the restaurant was able keep most of its kitchen staff employed, and bring back most of its waitstaff after reopening the dining room in June.
“The weekends have been great, but during the week it’s hit-or-miss,” the younger Eisele said. “We’re still very much stressing curbside. It’s definitely not going away, and it’s been the bonus that has kept us going. We still do curbside pop-up specials, and we still get a good reaction from that.”
Eisele also credits regulars with helping to keep Kurt’s afloat during the past six months.
“We have an incredibly loyal customer base,” he said. “This will be our 35th year. You can’t make it 35 years without having loyal customers. Especially during the three months we just did curbside, they ordered once, if not twice, a week. I would say 60%-70% of our customers are still repeat customers. And, a big handful of those have followed us from Day One.”
Eisele said the menu has been streamlined since the pandemic, but there are some additions, as well.
“There are items that I thought would never be on there,” he said. “We’d been fighting putting a hamburger on the menu for 35 years, but now we’re selling it. The menu you’ll see in 2021 is going to be a little more refined, and we have the option of keeping a more casual menu in the beer garden.”
Speaking of the beer garden, regulars are getting ready for Kurt’s annual Oktoberfest celebration. While socially distanced, it will feature food and beer specials, and live music.
“It’s obviously different this year,” Eisele said. “We can’t have communal tables, but I think our guests are going to feel more comfortable not being jammed together, and it will be a little more relaxed. I definitely plan to do Oktoberfest pop-up specials for curbside pickup.”
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KURT’S EURO BISTRO
Menu: German beer garden meets steakhouse
Alcohol: full bar menu available for dine-in; beer, wine available for takeout
What I ordered: potato pancakes, with creme fraiche and apple sauce; classic wienerschnitzel, with spatzle and lemon butter sauce; sausage skillet, with sauerkraut, German potato salad and onion straws; apple strudel, with apples, almonds and raisins. Everything except the strudel traveled really well, and the wienerschnitzel with spatzle, and the grilled Schaller & Weber sausages, were a treat.
Service options: dine-in or takeout; order in person or online; call on arrival for curbside delivery
Safety protocols: following all COVID-19 safety guidelines
Address, phone: 3305 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Duluth; 770-623-4128
Hours: bar and patio opens 4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; dining room opens 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; closed Sundays