In 2016, the first ever beer garden to grace the state of Louisiana opened in downtown Lafayette. This open-air market and catered park, The Wurst Biergarten, was founded by visionary CEO Robert Guercio as well as partners Keith Stokes, Carey McCue, and Joshua Wells with the mission to bring a family-friendly and dog-friendly establishment to the downtown area. Although they faced many challenges in the initial stages of developing The Wurst Biergarten, this venue is now a thriving and dearly-loved setting for Acadiana locals and visitors.
Everything about The Wurst Biergarten is special, down to the once-vacant lot where it now stands. “We got a lot of support from local state representatives and senators who recognized the value of taking a piece of land that had been undeveloped for around 30 years and turning it into an asset that would attract a lot of people into the downtown area,” says Robert.
Not only did they transform this empty lot, but they also strategically placed The Wurst Biergarten by the neighboring Parc de Lafayette. “We were able to get permission from the Downtown Development Authority to cut down a concrete wall between the park and the lot. This addressed some homeless and transient issues from the park that were hard for the city to manage,” says Robert. The location next to Parc de Lafayette also adds to the ambiance of the beer garden. “It’s a nice setting because with the park next door, we have a large oak tree in the front and a lot of shade trees from the park and a waterfall. It all accentuates what we’ve done with our design,” notes Robert.
Even the structure of the beer garden is unique with the body of the bar made from an actual shipping container. “I have a sustainability design degree, so I was able to incorporate sustainability into this project. We used a salvaged shipping container that was prefabricated, installed, and anchored onto the site. Then we added electrical, plumbing, insulation, aesthetic, and just evolved the project over time with the help of Adam Beazley – a local architect,” says Robert.
In addition to the beautiful setting and friendly atmosphere, a big component of The Wurst Biergarten is the live entertainment. Almost every week, they host live music or comedy performances from local and traveling artists. “We always wanted to support the local initiatives that were working their way into government to support live music and the arts,” says Robert. “Local live music is definitely a major part of the way that we’ve been able to achieve a lot of vibrancy through the business development project.”
Truly a place for the people, The Wurst Biergarten also supports local small businesses. “We are a business incubator, and that’s part of what the farmers market aspect of our business is all about. That was one of the unique components of our project. We didn’t just want to sell drinks and food– we also wanted to have this market for people and it continues to do well,” says Robert.
The project has overall been a success, and there are a few high points that stand out. “Probably the biggest highlight is the day we were granted an exception permit to operate our business,” laughs Robert. “But, personally, our ribbon-cutting ceremony that was hosted by One Acadiana and held in conjunction with Scenic Lafayette (a beautification organization under Scenic America) was a big highlight. Other than that, The Wurst Biergarten is a place people love, so there have been a lot of special moments where we were overwhelmed by customers showing us love and just being happy in our space. It’s hard to point to one specific moment as a highlight when there are so many,” says Robert.
People of all ages can enjoy time spent at The Wurst Biergarten. “It’s not unusual to see three generations present – a new grandchild, the mom, the dad, the dog, and the grandparents – all sitting around and enjoying being outside, listening to music, and being in the space,” says Robert. Part of the benefit of being a local business owner is the ability to recognize these families and appreciate the different generations that pass through.
For Robert, the best part of being a local business in Acadiana is the ability to offer something valuable to the community, and being a part of the development from start to finish. “I have a long history of developing business in downtown Lafayette. The Wurst Biergarten is the culmination for me of all of that hard work. At the end of the day it’s all about the joy we derive from seeing that everyone who walks through our doors is happy. After all, we’re in the business of providing happiness – fun times, happiness, and just giving people a family-friendly destination,” says Robert.
The Wurst Biergarten is an Acadiana treasure. When you eat or shop at The Wurst Biergarten, not only are you guaranteed to have a great time, but also you’re helping to build a robust local economy and support your neighbors. You can find The Wurst Biergarten on Towny – the free app making it easy to choose local. Don’t like the app world? No problem! Hop over here instead. We’ve got you covered!