When Kara and Tom Taddeo moved to Charlotte from New York eight months ago, they came with the intention of bringing something new and fresh to the Queen City. Kara's passion and inherent instinct for the hospitality industry is evident and stems from over 10 years as the general manager of a popular Manhattan-based boutique hotel. Having always enjoyed spending time at local Biergartens in NYC, the couple was eventually struck with a fancy to conceptualize and create an establishment of their own. Shortly afterwards, VBGB, short for Very Big German Beer, was born.
Creative Loafing: How did you first come up with the concept for VBGB, and why Charlotte?
Kara Taddeo: Biergartens are very popular in most major cities, and Tom and I spent a lot of time visiting them in NYC, particularly because they are kid-friendly. We chose Charlotte because we thought of our children and wanted an environment that felt more "kid conducive" than NYC. When we closed on our house in Charlotte, I Googled "Biergartens" in hopes of finding a good celebration spot, and nothing appeared. In developing the brand, we looked to provide a modern twist on a classic German-style Biergarten — something that would appeal to people looking for that bar alternative, which is an informal, communal experience that's all about the people and the quality of its product.
What did you take the most into consideration when developing the menu?
I am a true foodie at heart, and I wanted to make sure that we focused on food options that appealed to a vast demographic of customers. We've basically based the menu on traditional bar food and incorporated it with unique items that are new to the Charlotte dining scene — two prime examples being NYC's famous Zweigles hot dogs and meats, as well as the Big Apple's famous Dinosaur BBQ sauce, which has already proved to be a huge VBGB staple. I also love our German-inspired items, such as brats and Bavarian pretzels that are served with a homemade beer cheese sauce made fresh using one of our craft beers. The final part of our menu includes healthy alternatives such as grilled kabobs with veggies, a quinoa salad, which is a personal recipe, and the edamame, to name a few.
What is the definition of craft beer? What are a few of your most unique/interesting beers? How did you go about selecting this killer 30-item menu?
Craft beer is an American term, also common in Canada and New Zealand, that refers to beer brewed without adjuncts such as rice or corn. This beer has been crafted for its distinction and flavor rather than its mass appeal. In general, it refers to smaller breweries making higher quality beer than, say, Budweiser or something super mainstream like that. I'd say the Klokke Roland, Ballast Point Sculpin, and Petrus Aged Pale are our most unique beers. You won't see too many places carrying them simply because they are expensive and only appeal to a certain type of beer lover, which is, of course, all the more reason for VBGB to serve them — distinction!