he Mountain Brauhaus has been run by family since its doors first opened in 1955. While any member of the Ruoff family, given time, will happily tell you the details of how things came to be, the nutshell version is this:
Three brothers came to New York City from southern Germany around 1917. One brother, Emil, settled in Gardiner, and after selling his Tavern down the road, opened the Sugar Bowl on the corner of Routes 299 & 44/55. The Sugar Bowl became known for its juicy burgers and the hearty welcome of its proprietor. A series of German chefs gradually added some of their favorite dishes from the Old Country, and the full-fledged restaurant was eventually renamed the Mountain Brauhaus.
Uncle Emil sold the restaurant to brother Eugen & his wife Rosa in 1963, who ran it with their two sons. Their son, John, married Margarete Hildebrandt, a young immigrant herself, from the flatlands of North Germany. The two met while working together in the Brauhaus. John and Margarete raised their four children in and around the restaurant.
The third generation of the founding family is now at the helm; Mark Ruoff, along with his sister Ilka and her husband, chef Kevin Casey. Each brings their own perspective and strengths to the restaurant. Kevin arrived at the Mountain Brauhaus in 1998. As head chef since 2002, he has added excitement to the menu with his scrumptious and inventive specials, many of which have become popular staples on the permanent menu. The three owners share a love of good food and drink, and try to present the best expression of the traditions laid out by their forbears.
The Mountain Brauhaus remains a family restaurant in every sense, with sister Karin Ruoff Skalla now tending to the landscaping & flowers, and engineer-trained brother Eugene helping whenever his skills are called for. John and Margarete, now known as Oma and Opa to three grandchildren, continue to lend their support in many ways, from dirndl-sewing and babysitting to paperwork. The Ruoffs and Caseys, along with their dedicated staff, strive to present a high quality dining experience in the friendly and welcoming atmosphere established over 60 years ago.