- Cullman, Alabama


May 23, 2014

Busy Bee’s German fare a welcome addition

The Busy Bee, which opened its doors in 1919, has added some new and exciting dishes to its menu. That menu has drawn crowds since the first burger was served, and has a history of bringing people back again and again.

But now, in addition to those flavorful breaded burgers, you can also order up some brats and knockwurst, with a side of puffers and some tangy sauces to enhance the flavor of these German favorites.

“This is a German town, so we decided to bring back some German dishes to honor that heritage,” said owner Kitty Spears. “Now people don’t have to drive to Huntsville or the other side of Birmingham to have an authentic German meal.”

Several of their customers have spread the word — the Busy Bee has the best German food in town!

Third-generation grill man, Kyle Spears, who took over for his late father, Steve Spears, has been working at the Bee since he was just a youngster of 14. He learned the business from the ground up, and although he tried other jobs, the lure of the grill brought him back home.

He estimates that in his career he has flipped somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,400 burgers a week for an astounding grand total of 720,000 burgers!

“That’s a conservative estimate,” Kyle laughed. “It’s probably closer to a million.”

For the first month following the reopening of the Busy Bee after the devastation of the April 27, 2011, tornado, Kyle and the crew served up around 2,000 burgers a day to customers who needed a Busy Bee fix after the year when the popular restaurant was being demolished and then totally rebuilt from the ground up.

One year to the day of the tornado, the Busy Bee was again in business, with lines around the corner and down the street.

Now, in a new, modern building, the Spears family recently elected to update their menu, as well. By popular request following their German cuisine debut at October Fest, they chose to include those dishes on their new menu. “People wanted something different,” said Kitty. “We’ve had an extremely good, positive reception from the community.”

Kyle is excited about the inclusion of the new items on the menu. He dreams of going to culinary school in Germany some day in order to bring an even more eclectic variety of German dishes to people here who love the flavors of their heritage. Many of their grandparents immigrated to Cullman in the 1800s, bringing with them recipes from home, but over time, those some of those recipes have been lost, or altered to accommodate our Southern tastes and for lack of the available spices.

The Spears found a German supplier who can deliver just what they need to make their dishes taste like German food is supposed to taste.

Kyle’s culinary skills shine in this new venture. The Schweine Schnitzel, a tasty breaded and friend pork cutlet is a big hit with customers, as is the Kase Schnitzel, a delightful, full-sized offering of seasoned, breaded and fried pork cutlet covered with melted gouda cheese.

For those with a real appetite, the sausage platter is a flavor-filled choice of bratwurst, rauchwurst or knockwurst, enhanced with a tangy mustard sauce.

Jaeger Schnitzel, a full-sized breaded and fried-to-perfection pork cutlet, topped with a spicy hunter’s sauce, while Zigeuner Schnitzel is a real foodie’s treat of breaded and fried pork cutlet topped with spicy gypsy sauce.  

Each entrée comes with a choice of two German side dishes and locally baked, specialty artesan breads, like hardy pumpernickel or crusty sourdough.

Top off your meal with one of a variety of German beers, both on tap and in bottles.

Schnitzel, which, according to Kitty, means “pan fried” in German, is a big hit with German visitors, who often remark that the Busy Bee version is just like eating at their grandma’s table.

For those whose tastebuds call for a more traditional meal, the Busy Bee’s lunch and dinner menus are filled with traditional appetizers, such as Boom Boom Shrimp, and loaded barbecue chips, freshly made soups of the day, a killer buffalo bacon burger, and a buffalo chicken sandwich that is a very popular selection.

At night, the atmosphere changes at the shop on the corner at 101 5th Street, S.E. in Cullman. From lowered lights to create a more intimate atmosphere, to the greatest in blues and Southern rock-and-roll music, the mood is one for socializing and having a good time, with delicious food as the icing on the cake!

The Bee’s six-ounce seasoned sirloin, grilled to order, comes with buttery Texas toast, a side salad and your choice of one of their scrumptious side dishes. Top your steaks with blue-cheese crumbles or grilled shrimp for a great dinner on special occasions, or just because it’s time for something exceptional.

If seafood is your pleasure, you’ll find delectable Shrimp Scampi, or grilled shrimp with all the trimmings.

More of a morning person? You’re in luck, the Bee serves up the best breakfast in town, with country ham, hot biscuits, eggs to order, bacon, smoked sausage, pancakes and hot coffee!

Of course, the Busy Bee will always have a burger with your name on it when you visit. Their claim to fame all of these years is still the house favorite. Even the governor agrees, you just can’t beat a Busy Bee burger! Find them on Facebook!

Handed down from a secret recipe, the breaded burger recipe dates back over a century. Made from freshly ground (never frozen!) Black Angus ground beef, the burgers come to your table crispy on the edges and tender and moist inside, just the way you like ’em from the home of Cullman’s oldest restaurant!

Kyle, Kitty and the gang will be happy to book your private parties. Just ask for rates.

The Details

You’ll find Kyle at the grill during the Busy Bee’s regular business hours, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dinner is served after 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed on Sunday.

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