Keith Oldendorf is president of Deutsches Haus (www.deutscheshaus.org), a German social club and special events hall currently based in Metairie. Oldendorf spoke with Gambit about the group's upcoming Oktoberfest celebrations, the organization's return to Orleans Parish and his favorite German foods.
What's on the agenda for Oktoberfest this year?
Oldendorf: This year, we're going to have our own Deutsches Haus-labeled beer in time for Oktoberfest made by 40 Arpent Brewing in St. Bernard Parish. On the menu, we have many of the same dishes that are traditional and have been popular in years past, including schnitzel, beef sauerbraten, big pretzels and a German-style pizza called flammkuchen.
We have between 15,000 and 20,000 people attend our Oktoberfest celebration every year. It was biggest when we moved from our old location to the new space we're using now in Kenner, and we're hoping it will continue to grow when we move again into our new home on Bayou St. John.
What are the plans for your new location?
O: The new building we're constructing on Bayou St. John will be totally different from where we are now. It is going to reflect both traditional and modern German architecture, with each piece of the building representing a different part of Germany. There will be a big beer garden in the back, where people can drink beer under an oak tree and watch the sun set over Bayou St. John. The roofline of the building will reflect the Black Forest in Germany, the towers will represent the German castles and the brickwork will be a texture like what is found in northern Germany.
We're going to continue our annual events and operate like a social club. Currently, we have around 600 members. We anticipate the new building will be ready in early 2017, and that our membership will grow.
What's your favorite German food?
O: I love them all, but it's definitely just a basic bratwurst with sauerkraut. There's nothing quite like a good brat.
Deutsches Haus' Oktoberfest is from 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and 1 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays Oct. 10-25 at Rivertown (415 Williams Blvd.) in Kenner.