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St. Petersburg Hofbräuhaus posts ‘closed’ sign. Is this the end?

The city had to shut off the restaurant’s water. The building’s owners had already threatened eviction last year.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Hofbräuhaus has closed after a four-year run.

The city of St. Petersburg has shut off water to the German beer hall after it failed to pay months worth of utility bills. Now “closed” signs are on the windows.

The city says it locked the restaurant’s account and shut of its water on Thursday. On Friday, a Tampa Bay Times reporter witnessed staff unable to open the hall’s locked doors. The Hofbräuhaus Facebook page had also been deleted.

A hand-written “closed" sign taped to restaurant’s front door stated “sorry for the inconvenience" went up over the weekend. Another added Monday said “closed until further notice" and thanked the community for its business.

When the restaurant operators get the water bill on March 6, the total owed will be nearly $10,200, according the city’s utility office.

The Hofbräuhaus owners have been tangled in a dispute since the fall, when its landlord filed a lawsuit saying they missed rent over the summer. The property owner, WG St. Pete, said in the lawsuit that missing rent was a breach of contract, leaving the restaurant owners on the hook for an accelerated rent totaling $7.1 million. WG St. Pete also threatened eviction.

A sign posted on the entrance to Hofbräuhaus is seen Monday, March 2, 2020 in St. Petersburg. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

An attorney representing the restaurant operators, Bavarian Partners, said he was reaching out to his client for comment Friday but has since not responded.

The restaurant also is facing a lawsuit from a music licensing company that said the Hofbräuhaus owed it $12,000.

Hofbräuhaus was conceived by a father and son from Chicago. The duo owns the Chicago location of the American chain modeled after the iconic beer hall in Munich. They bought the St. Pete building from the Times in 2014 for $2.7 million and then put in another $3 million in renovations.

The building formerly was the Tramor Cafeteria, which served as the Times employee cafeteria and was also open to the public.

But the men who renovated the cafeteria sold the business to Bavarian Partners, led by the CEO of Big Boy restaurants. A capital investment firm bought the property and then sold it to WG St. Pete.