Owners of Mecklenburg Gardens start German-inspired festival food business


Tom and Anne Harten, who have owned Mecklenburg Gardens for the past 20 years, recently broke away from the hustle and bustle of running a restaurant to focus on festivals.

They'll retain ownership of the restaurant, but Tom’s brothers are now running it day-to-day. Their new business, BeckHart, brings a twist on traditional German fare to area festivals.
 
BeckHart’s menu features German-inspired dishes such as a meatball slider covered with beer cheese and served on a pretzel bun, as well as goetta and beer cheese on a larger pretzel bun. Tom also has what he calls the Super Duper Pretzel Weenie, a foot-long hot dog on a 7-inch pretzel bun topped with bacon and beer cheese.
 
At Mecklenburg Gardens, the potato pancakes are a customer favorite, so Tom decided to do a twist on that as well, since potato pancakes are difficult to do at a festival booth. BeckHart instead serves tater tots that can be topped with beer cheese and bacon bits.
 
“This is really a chance for us to be more creative,” Tom says. “We don’t have to focus on our set restaurant menu and can venture out and try new things.”
 
Tom says he’s looked into a food truck or a brick-and-mortar location for the future, but for now he’s sticking with festivals.
 
“Festivals are only on the weekends, and I want to be busy all week long,” he says. “But it’s hard to find a location that has the same draw as Mecklenburg. It’s a historic gem, and nowhere I’ve seen has that history and character that I’m used to.”
 
But a brick-and-mortar store isn’t out of the question, he says, just not right now.
 
BeckHart has been at a number of festivals this fall, including Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and Newport Oktoberfest, and is planning to be at Listermann Brewing’s Oktoberfest on Oct. 9. During the holiday season, BeckHart also plans to return to Fountain Square for Cincideutsch’s Christkindlmarkt, which is held on the weekends beginning Nov. 27. 
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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