The Berliner Pub nears reopening after two-year closure

The Renton community’s favorite pub is expected to open its doors once again this summer.

Collectively, the Renton community has sacrificed many things during the long months of the pandemic. But society now finds itself, hopefully, at a point of return.

Both of these things are true for the owners of The Berliner Pub in downtown Renton and the patrons who have sorely missed it.

The German-themed pub and popular soccer watching location opened in 2011, according to co-owner Lydia Mascarinas, who opened the business with her husband Dennis Mascarinas.

Lydia said The Berliner Pub was intended to be a casual middle ground for beer-drinkers, German food enthusiasts, soccer fans and just about anyone else who may want to experience a cold drink or a hot bratwurst in a German beer hall — “not a dive bar, not white table cloths,” as she described it.

Their commitment to authentic German culture, cuisine and festivities is at the forefront of what The Berliner Pub represents. Lydia said the venue regularly welcomes patrons familiar with German roots and traditions. Soccer superfans quickly fill the space during Seattle Sounders and World Cup games.

She said the place often gets a little rowdy with chanting fans, drums and vuvuzela horns — even a Bavarian-themed band called the Happy Hans — but it is an environment they welcome and an environment which makes The Berliner Pub a unique gem in the community.

“It’s our niche, it’s our thing,” she said.

Lydia said they rarely serve beer not imported from Germany, but that level of authenticity can be difficult to maintain, especially when a global pandemic creates supply chain issues for those kinds of products. The prohibition of indoor dining left questions about if it’s worthwhile to keep an atmosphere-centric business open for a take-out experience.

“Our food is not to-go food,” Lydia said “[People] want it out of the kitchen, fresh, and a liter of beer with it.”

Stacked with other difficulties, the pub’s owners were forced to make a difficult decision closing their doors during the earliest part of the pandemic — leaving a Berliner Pub-shaped hole in the heart of the Renton community.

Now, after two tumultuous years for restaurant owners everywhere, The Berliner Pub is closer than ever to reopening its doors to the community.

Inside the pub is a work in progress undergoing several different renovations, which Lydia believes will maintain the same classic feel while also sprucing up and adding some nice details to the venue.

“We are coming back bigger and better. Well not bigger, but better,” Lydia said jokingly.

The owners of The Berliner Pub wanted to keep these renovations secret, so old patrons and pub regulars can enjoy the surprise when they come back to enjoy a long-overdue cold stein of beer after a few years during which many of us may have drifted farther apart, rather than together.

“Humans are social animals,” Lydia said. “We need that togetherness, to realize that we are not so different from one another.”

With many community members and concerned Berliner Pub patrons asking what the hold-up is for the pub’s reopening, Lydia said the largest obstacle searching for staff. After not having to hire staff for two years, Lydia said she was surprised by how difficult it has been to find applicants, a problem currently experienced by many restaurants.

“I don’t know where everyone went,” she said.

A core staff, who worked in the pub before the pandemic, left when it closed. Now, those staffers have essentially dropped everything to return and work toward the reopening — a flattering testament to the family created there and the importance of the venue to the community, she said.

While there is no firm date for the reopening, the return of The Berliner Pub (221 Main Ave S.) is expected by the end of the summer.

Photo courtesy of The Berliner Pub

Photo courtesy of The Berliner Pub