The Catacombs restaurant is an upscale eatery 43-feet underground and the most unique eatery I’ve ever visited. When in the Lancaster/Mount Joy, Pennsylvania area, I wanted to take a tour of the Catacombs. I had read about it and even mentioned it in a few articles, so I wanted to tour it and see what it was like for myself.
Several stories below street level, The Catacombs is in the aging cellars of Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy.
The Brewery itself is a fun place to enjoy excellent food, live music, and a variety of options and events to please the most finicky visitor. But the Catacombs is an enchanting experience you won’t want to miss.
Bube’s Brewery provided a hosted dinner in the Catacombs and tour during our visit. All opinions are my own.
Alois Bube, a young German immigrant who was a brewing apprentice before coming to America, secured a job at the small brewery in Mount Joy. German-style lager beer was all the rage at the time, and there was enormous demand. Alois saw an excellent business opportunity and, with a neighbor’s financing help, purchased the brewery in 1876.
He expanded Bube’s Brewery and added the Victorian Central Hotel to provide lodging for guests and use as his family residence. His excellent reputation as a brewer and businessman helped him build a very successful business. Until one day, tragedy struck, and Mr. Bube died at the age of 57.
Even though his Brewery closed before Prohibition, the wealth he had accumulated made it possible for his family to continue to live on the property for over 40 years. But they did little upkeep to the building.
When the family sold the property, it needed repair, and restoration began in 1968.
After an 84-year break, Bube’s started brewing beer once again in 2001.
Today, Bube’s Brewery, including the Catacombs, is thought to be the only one of hundreds of breweries from the “lager era” still in usable condition in the United States.
When entering Bube’s, you are greeted by a host. When visiting the bar area or one of the street-level eating areas, you are escorted to your table. If you have a reservation for the Catacombs, you are led on a pre-meal tour of the historic Brewery. (Others may have a tour upon request.)
During your tour, the guide explains what the various rooms and equipment were used for. In the brewery area, you will find artifacts, including gigantic wooden barrels once used to age the brew. There are also original Bube’s beer bottles, antique butter churns, and stoves.
The old brewery was created with a “vertical design.” The hot beer was pumped out of the kettle to the top level where it would cool and then ferment in the room below, then down a level for conditioning, and down to the Catacombs for aging.
As you descend into the Catacombs, you are surrounded by stone-lined walls on your way to the unique upscale dining area. An evening here enjoying the tour and the Catacombs is an unforgettable experience.
When you arrive at the Catacombs, you are 43 feet below the street level and in a series of stone-lined vaults. The 19th-century cellar nestled beneath the historic brewery provides a unique candlelight atmosphere.
The dimly lit cellars have strings of lights draped across the dining areas in addition to the candles. Stone walls surround you, and some of the protruding stones have candles sitting on them.
It is an intimate, romantic atmosphere with tables elegantly set for two and four people.
Soft music plays in the background.
Servers were assigned to the Catacomb area. I found it particularly interesting that there were no dumb waiters, and the kitchen was on the street level, so the staff had to go up the stairs to get the food and carry it down 43 feet to Catacombs for each order.
The fine dining menu includes a variety of gourmet entrées as well as a few traditional German and American dishes. The menu is written in both German and English.
When we visited, our host ordered several appetizers to share. My favorite was roasted asparagus.
I ordered the tasty grilled pork chops with an apple cider vinaigrette glaze served with tender green beans and a baked potato. My husband ordered a seafood pasta entrée that included linguini pasta tossed with lobster tail, sea scallops, shrimp, crab, and mussels in an alfredo sauce that he reported was superb.
We shared a decadent piece of chocolate cake with a hot fudge glaze drizzled on it for dessert.
Other Restaurants At Bube’s
The other areas of Bube’s have a shared menu that is different from the fine dining menu in the Catacombs. I’ve eaten in both the Catacombs and the BottlingWorks and both were delicious.
Beer and soft drinks were once bottled in the current BottlingWorks restaurant and tavern.
An outdoor drinking garden, the Biergarten, is adjacent to the BottlingWorks. The vast original boiler and smokestack used to create steam power for the old brewery sit in the middle of the Biergarten. Meals and drinks are served in the garden under the shade trees.
The original barrel repair room is now known as the Cooper Shed. It is an extension of the BottlingWorks restaurant best suited for large parties or groups and provides a quieter atmosphere.
Once the original dining rooms and bar of the Victorian Hotel portion of Bube’s Brewery, the Alois is home to special events such as Murder Mystery Dinners and private events.
The Central Hotel, built in the 1880s, was a state-of-the-art lodging facility. The hotel was said to have the first flush toilet in Mount Joy.
The hotel is still open, with eight of the original rooms decorated in a unique theme.
Bube’s has something going on all the time. Some of the events are its famous Murder Mystery Dinners, karaoke, and Trivia Nights.
Theatrical feasts are often hosted in the Catacombs. The enchanted storybook environment is perfect for the special dinner with live actors creating a memorable evening for attendees.
The Brewery and Catacombs are supposedly haunted, and they host ghost tours and paranormal investigations. Ghosthunters have visited Bube’s and confirmed there is paranormal activity. When I visited, I didn’t see anything spooky, but certainly could understand why it might be haunted.
If a visit to a unique eatery is on your bucket list, Catacombs is perfect. A charming place for a special occasion dinner or a romantic date night, the Catacombs will be one of the most unique eateries you will ever experience.
Pro Tip: There are no elevators. To get to the Catacombs, you must be able to climb up and down steps, and once in the Catacombs, the lighting is dimmed. (remember, your phone has a flashlight to help you read the menu.)
Other food experiences available in Pennsylvania: