Juergen Mahneke of Germany opened Bavarian Grill 22 years ago to bring a taste of his homeland to Plano.
“We had a fun party when we turned 21. It’s fun when you turn 3 or 5 but turning 21 and having a party—you invite all your friends over—and you are at that stage where you are relaxed,” he said.
Known for its Alpine symbolism and festivals like Oktoberfest, the region of Bavaria spans the southeast portion of Germany. Originally from Wolfsburg, a city located about 150 miles west of Berlin, Mahneke visits different parts of Germany each year to find tried-and-true recipes; build relationships with German breweries, wineries and distilleries; and bring back new culinary ideas to Plano.
Guests at Bavarian Grill and their children can assemble jigsaw puzzles, which are displayed on walls throughout the restaurant once completed. The walls are also adorned with scenic photo puzzles of Bavaria, steins and other trinkets of German culture. Children can also color a picture of a train while the adults sip beer, and listen and sing to traditional German live music complete with accordions.
Executive Chef Seth de Wit and Mahneke have been working together for about eight years, and De Wit said his kitchen staff typically prepares food for about 700 guests per day on Fridays and Saturdays. A variety of schnitzel recipes, oven-roasted chicken, liver and onions with apple, bratwurst, sauerkraut and a special lingonberry jelly are some of the authentic items on the menu.
Other favorites include German potato salad and wild game entrees, such as wild boar, quail and duck.
“If I like everything that’s going into a dish, then I know I am going to like [the finished product],” de Wit said. “You only get one chance in this business, and you have to show yourself the first time because most people—they don’t complain—they just don’t come back.”
The restaurant is divided into different areas that would be consistent with the seating style of a typical German restaurant, including indoor and outdoor bier gartens complete with garden-style tables and chairs.
Mahneke said maintaining the authenticity of the food and ambience is key to the restaurant’s success. To him, it is all about preserving and sharing the original German dining experience. His passion for German hospitality extends not only to the restaurant’s guests but also his team.
“I have always believed that when you have a strong team where you let people shine, then you [have gotten] pretty far already,” Mahneke said.