A major new attraction is coming to Playhouse Square. Cleveland's about to combine a Hofbrauhaus with the Hermit Club

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CLEVELAND -- A major new attraction is coming to PlayhouseSquare.

Cleveland's about to combine Hofbrauhaus, a copy of a 400-year-old German beer hall and restaurant, with the Hermit Club, a century-old club that helps amateur performing arts.

On Thursday, officials of the Cincinnati group behind the project hoisted a toast with Theater District supporters to launch construction.The ceremony replaces the traditional groundbreaking.

The restaurant will be on Chester Avenue on the northern side of PlayhouseSquare.

PlayhouseSquare Foundation's Art Falco says this will open up another part of the district's campus and should attract more families and young people in the normally less-busy summer season.

The original Hofbrauhaus started in Munich, Germany, in 1589 and is still a tourist drawing card.

Millions of visitors flow through there every year. It's renowned for its beer garden and Oktoberfest celebration.

The new Cleveland restaurant will include a brewery for the German-style beer using traditional hops, yeast and malt.

There will be a German-schooled beermaker and chef delivering a native German menu.

Old-time Clevelanders will remember a popular Hofbrauhaus restaurant on East 55th Street run by German immigrant Steve Bencic. It had no ties to Munich.

A former Clevelander played a key role in this new project.

Andi Udris, a former Cleveland development director, brought the first Hofbrauhaus to Greater Cincinnati, in Newport, Ky., in 2003.

Now there are Hofbrauhaus franchises in the United States in Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Besides Cleveland, other Hofbrauhaus restaurants are scheduled to go up in Milwaukee, Columbus and Buffalo.

Cleveland's $8.4 million project is set to open late next year.

The project marks a big change for the Hermit Club. The club will lease space from the Hofbrauhaus but share its performance stage.

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