The much-loved German restaurant Checkers Old-Munchen re-opened for a packed house this past weekend. Eager customers threw back boots of beer or slowly filled up on drinks thanks to an eight-part beer tasting menu.
Nearby was a German buffet, which staff struggled to keep stocked, as the dining room chowed on three different types of sausage -- chicken and apple, pepper and cheese bratwurst and knockwurst, spaetzle, potato pancakes, two types of sauerkraut and a German cucumber salad.
An electrical fire ripped through the kitchen in 2011, forcing owner Mathew Moore to shut down operations. He didn't give up. Instead he moved a piece of his operations to his brother, Bill Sand's Diner-By-The-Sea eatery only steps away from the beach at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. For about six months Moore has been serving up $10 plates of wurst, spaetzle and potato pancakes.
The fire was something of a blessing in disguise. Diner-By-The-Sea will continue serving up the $10 plate, which was No. 48 out of our top 100 dishes back in April, a month before the fire broke out.
"We've only got four burners here," Moore, in October, said of the seaside location. Additionally his 60-seat dining room was cut in half, but now both operations are running full tilt.
Moore said he put nearly $250,000 into redoing every part of Checkers. He was able to salvage the more than 100 beer steins that now sit proudly on the wall. The night's beer samples ranged from Angry Orchard Hard Cider to Konig Ludwig Hefe-Weisse, an easy-drinking wheat beer, to Spaten Optimator, a dark brew with 7.2 percent alcohol.
The free-flowing beer and laughter was a sure sign that after 30 years Checkers is still a Fort Lauderdale, and will continue to be so well into the future.
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