Stoudt's was established by fusing old world craftsmanship with modern innovations. Our goal is to continually raise the standards while also giving back to and supporting our community. Ed and Carol have always felt the need to perfect their business "hands on" rather than rely on outside sources in providing excellence to their clients. Quality workmanship at a fair price continues to be the mainstay for the Stoudt family and their employees in providing customers with a good time through festivals, fine antiques, hand-cut steaks, artisan bread, and exceptional brews.
A Rich History…
The history of Stoudt’s is sometimes rather hard to imagine, especially when thinking of the gradual strides the family business has achieved within the small hamlet of Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Ed Stoudt was first noticed as a natural entrepreneur by some bankers who came into his father’s restaurant in Sinking Spring, PA. The bank decided to invest in Eddie Stoudt after witnessing the improvements he made at his father’s once failing business. Only two years after coming home from the navy, the 22-year-old Stoudt opened his new restaurant. It was called Stoudt’s Kountry Kitchen, modeled after his father’s roasted chicken place. The next few years proved to be very strenuous as he had little money to invest, sometimes even sleeping on a cot in the basement, putting all of his energy into his new venture.
Stoudt’s Kountry Kitchen had undergone a major change, eventually becoming Ed Stoudt’s Black Angus in 1964, more of an upscale, Western themed steakhouse. The young Stoudt could only afford servers, usually doing all of the cooking, dishwashing, bartending, and hosting…working an estimated 100 to 120 hours a week. His mother even helped out by baking every rhubarb pie that was served. To this day, Ed looks forward to the springtime when Carol starts baking him rhubarb pies just like his mother did. After years of struggling to pay the mortgage, the restaurant started to pay off a little. After Shupp’s Grove and Renninger’s Antiques opened in the 1960’s, Adamstown started to become known for its antiques. Ed Stoudt started to rent space to ten antique dealers in the cellar of his restaurant. His love for antiques soon began to grow, and the restaurant once again went through a change. In 1968, the restaurant evolved into a Victorian themed steakhouse with an upscale, 19th century motif. Stoudt dimmed the lights, added some Victorian-era touches, and drenched the place in his favorite color, red. As the small town emerged as an antiques Mecca for the east coast, he decided to expand on the land directly behind the restaurant, and create an antique mall.
Stoudt’s Antique Mall was built in 1972, dedicated to fine antiques and housing about 70 dealers. In 1975, Ed married Carol, and things really began to blossom. Carol, a kindergarten teacher from Adamstown, fell in love with Ed when she began working for him as a waitress. With a new, dedicated wife and two children, the couple started to build a new home together. After a horrible fire that destroyed the antique mall and part of the restaurant, the young couple would not be discouraged. They moved on and rebuilt the business, re-opening in February of 1978.
The Beer Garten was also built in 1978, and Stoudt’s German Gemutlitlikeit Beer Festival was born. Since then, Ed and Carol can be seen wearing their German garb, dancing, toasting and having a good time with friends and family. The German feel of the place brings one back to the philosophy behind every one of Stoudt’s businesses. Ed and Carol have always been interested in their German heritage. But the Bier Garten was missing something. It had oompahs and dirndels, a pig roast and strudels. But the beer just wasn’t good and fresh like it is at the Hoffbrauhaus in Munich. So the next step was finding a good beer in order to fill the void, to make it just like the old world.
Carol was a full time mom, raising their five children, Elizabeth, Carey, Edward, Laura, and Gretel. But after a few trips, and talking with likeminded beer enthusiasts and brewers, Carol and Ed started one of the first microbreweries in Pennsylvania since Prohibition. Ed and Carol loved the beer in Europe, but could not find a good beer brewed in the area. The West Coast really started the craft brewing movement, and after meeting Ken Allen, Charlie Papazzi, Phil Owens, Karl Strauss, Russell Sherer, Roger Briess and many others at a Brewer’s Conference in Portland, Oregon, the Stoudt’s began to realize their destiny as craft brewers. Originally getting into brewing in order to have some decent American beers at the beer festivals and the restaurant, Stoudt’s Brewing Company, born in 1987, would turn out to be so much more.
Perhaps Karl Strauss saw the beer in Ed and Carol’s blood. He decided to mentor the young couple and Scott Stover, their first head brewer, into the first brewer, Scott Stover was also influenced by Strauss. The brewery business proved to be another major challenge for the Stoudt’s, but also the most rewarding. Many breweries couldn’t last more than five years before going bankrupt. Stoudt’s Brewing Company only brewed 500 barrels of beer, keeping it for in house use. The following year, in 1988, the Stoudts (with their love for antiques) actually bought and used a bottle filler from 1901, and bottled 750 ml. bottles. They bought the small filler from a brewing museum, and one can still see it today, retired near the stage in the BierGarten. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it all worked. But it did, and one can witness the achievements today, as the small family owned complex of businesses are proudly working full force together.
The brewery would go on, and still continues to win medals at the Great American beer festival, inspire new breweries to make a start in the business, and please beer loyalists all over the east coast. The plush Victorian chairs in the brewpub part of the restaurant, one of the festivals, or one of the old red barstools are all places where any visitor of Stoudt’s can whole heartedly enjoy the various concoctions of hops, barley, malt and water brewed just next door. Stoudt’s Brewing Company made its start with perfecting the German style Pilsner, Munich style Helles lager, Oktoberfest, and Honey Double Mai Bock. But as the years went on, Stoudt’s has been brewing up some tasty Pacific Northwest style ales, a true German Hefeweizen, English ales, and a Belgian Abbey Triple.
The bakery, Eddie’s Breads, another attempt of best accommodating the restaurant, was born in 1997, using beer in at least three signature bread recipes. Eddie’s Breads also makes bread and pastries for the antique mall, sells bread at the gift shop, and twists up the soft pretzels at the Bavarian Summer Fests. Ed had the idea of baking bread for his restaurant, and after a weeklong class in Poughkeepsie at the CIA, and buying some equipment from France, his daughter, Elizabeth decided to continue the trade. The bread is made with 100-year-old Levin from France, given by friend and fellow baker at Amy’s Breads.
Stoudtburg Village was the last major addition to Stoudt’s. The village was born in 1995 as Ed Stoudt’s mind was pregnant with thoughts and visions of old world quality. The village is a mock German style village with a cobblestone-laden square, nearby forests, and a storefront home in which each villager must run a small business. The idea of a small community living off of each others goods, especially in the heyday of the monotonous chains, strip malls, and big boxes is one that is surely catching on, as the village is in a continual state of growth. The antique mall, directly across from the opening gates of the village, has grown to house over 400 dealers, attracting fine furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, and artwork from all periods of the past.
Many people who come to Stoudt’s realize the amazing growth that the complex of businesses have gone through to become what they are today. Now it is 2007, and Stoudt’s is celebrating a series of achievements in four anniversaries. Stoudt’s Black Angus restaurant will be forty five this year, the antique mall thirty five, Stoudt’s Brewing Company will be twenty, and Eddie’s Breads will be ten. The sprawling complex of beer, bread, food, and antiques has come a long way since its birth. The great part about Ed and Carol Stoudt’s ideas are having the best possible pairings that go with the original steakhouse. The mall is 78,000 square feet, and housing wares spanning every field and century of the world of antiques. The brewery has expanded a few times as well, and since 2006, has been producing and bottling every beer with the new, larger 12 0z. bottling line. The brewery also has a new brew house and warehouse, brewing about 10,000 barrels a year, and still growing. Ed and Carol Stoudt have never allowed anything to get in the way of putting out the best possible product they could, of giving patrons of the businesses a taste of all of the things that drive them and make them happy.