The main drag of York Boulevard has seen quite a transformation over the past couple of years, with everything from ramen to Romanian taking up residence over a bustling stretch of blocks. A surge of hipster-friendly hot spots in between beloved favorites (Galco’s! La Estrella!) has resulted in a uniquely well-rounded eater’s paradise. Good food has the power to both unify and energize a community, a sentiment that is shared by York’s newest addition: Hinterhof, a German kitchen and beer garden situated on the 4900 block that is slated to open by the end of the year.German-born owner Matthias Brandt plans to serve vegan dishes inspired by the traditional German fare his grandmother made, as well as a variety of German beer. The space will include both an indoor restaurant and a spacious outdoor beer garden perfect for soaking up summer afternoons, all housed in an glass-walled building that gives a nod to the location’s past. In terms of fostering community, Brandt hopes the project will live up to its name. “The word ‘hinterhof’ translates to courtyard or backyard, often used when referring to as an urban outdoor space where friends and neighbors eat, talk, and spend leisurely time together,” he explains.
When I first caught wind of the project, I was immediately intrigued, as well as curious as to how it came to land in the middle of York’s dynamic food scene. I reached out to Brandt with a few questions, and he was kind enough to share a bit about the inspiration for Hinterhof and his dedication to keeping things local. Check out our conversation below and start counting down the days until you can spend your weekends taking full advantage of that outdoor beer garden.
Hi Matthias! Why did you choose Highland Park for Hinterhof?
I live close by in Glassell Park and spend a lot of time in Highland Park. When we started looking into this project, the little spot on York stood out to me. I loved the feel of the location and initially wanted to keep the existing building. But structural engineers, city planning, and health codes wouldn’t allow us to use the building, so we hired an architect to create a new space for us.
The Cruz family, who has owned the property since the 1950’s, had a lot of offers to sell or lease to other businesses, but they really wanted to work with us. We worked out a partnership with the Cruz family and we’re hoping that all members of the community will have a chance to experience our take on German food. I think we will fit naturally into the contemporary Californian atmosphere. I was born and raised in Germany and have lived in California for the past 20 years. Hinterhof will proudly assert its German influence, but do so in a way that puts a fresh twist on the familiar- like so many places in today’s Germany.
What are you hoping it will bring to the community?
Undoubtedly, we will bring something new to the neighborhood. I know there are a lot of people who are curious about trying vegan food, beyond those that have adopted a completely vegan lifestyle. And then there is the beer garden aspect, which will draw its own base of customers. I really do hope that we can create an enjoyable space for everyone.
I am very aware talk about gentrification has come up on social media. I guess some people assume that we bought the building and pushed long time residents out. It’s the opposite: we are working with the family that owns the site to revive the location. We asked local contractors to submit bids. We will hire locally and we will give back to the community.
Do you have a general timeline for opening?
We started working on Hinterhof in 2014 and it looks like we finally can get excited about opening by the end of this year.