Looking for good craft beer and a cozy place to have conversation? Look no further than SturmHaus, one of Chattanooga’s newest artisan food and drink establishments.
By Jen Jeffrey
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What is SturmHaus?
SturmHaus is an attractive, upscale beer bar and beer market located in the heart of Chattanooga in the historic Fleetwood Coffee Company building at the corner of Houston and 11th Streets.
The establishment is run by Dave and Marsha Sturm, along with their son, Matt. Their goal is to provide a friendly place for friends to gather that is less intimidating than the typical bar scene.
How the Concept Developed
Marsha originally wanted to have an artisan cheese shop, but the more she looked into it, the more she felt she didn’t have the time and expertise. She also wasn’t sure Chattanooga was ready for a cheese-only store.
Then Matt visited friends in Atlanta and discovered a store selling growlers—jugs of fresh tapped beer available for take-home purchase.
“Matt came back excited and told us about the place,” Marsha says. “My husband researched it and we felt like it was the perfect time to jump in. The craft beer market was hitting the South at that time in Atlanta and Asheville, and it was just beginning to ooze into Chattanooga.”
The Sturms began with just the beer, but soon followed with a menu of sandwiches and a line of cheeses.
“We are more of a neighborhood gathering place or an old-fashioned pub than a restaurant,” says Marsha. “We do just about everything in the low gravity industry, but we do focus on craft beer.”
What to Expect
Patrons at SturmHaus can expect to be served by one of the family members.
“My husband does all the bookkeeping, I mostly work in the back in the kitchen, and Matt manages the front,” Marsha says. “He knows what sells and knows how to introduce it to customers.”
Marsha says the family loves helping people branch out from their typical selections.
“It is all about the beer experience—trying new beers and getting the customer out of their ‘beer box’,” Marsha says. “When they come in and ask for a generic beer we say, ‘Well we don’t have that one—however, let me turn you on to this one. This is a fine beer crafted in Wisconsin…’”
Of course, the only thing better than a good craft beer is a good craft beer paired well with an artisan cheese—a skill the Sturms consider an art.
“I love to pair the two together because there is such a different depth of flavor with beer than there is with wine,” Marsha says.
The current selection includes local farmstead cheese as well as artisan cheese from Virginia, Washington, California, and Vermont. There are also several imported cheeses, and the Sturms show their support for local businesses by offering items like chili from Flat Iron Deli and brats from Enzo’s Market.
A Neighborhood Locale
According to Marsha, the Chattanooga community has responded well to SturmHaus’ unique culture: some love the free Wi-Fi, while others are drawn to the free pool and indoor shuffleboard.
In recent months, the areas surrounding SturmHaus have given way to a crop of new restaurants. But rather than feeling threatened, Marsha says they love the new foot traffic. “It is more about developing a community than competition. That’s the thing I love about Chattanooga.”
She expresses her hope that SturmHaus will be a haven of sorts in an era dominated by virtual communication.
“Our goal is to have a safe environment where people can come and enjoy each other and have conversation again. We’re all about getting away from social media and back into the neighborhood.”