Iowa's Oldest Bar & Restaurant
Iowa's oldest food and drinking establishment was opened in 1852 by federal permit issued from President Millard Fillmore. Jacob Breitbach, Great-Great Grandfather of the present owner worked for the original owner and purchased the tavern in 1862. Since that time, the Breitbach family has been in continuous ownership of the historical establishment which is now in its sixth generation. The original structure, which was destroyed by fire in December 2007 had been nominated to the Register of Historic Buildings.
Breitbach’s Country Dining which has been rebuilt for the second time abounds in turn of the century furniture, magnificent handmade quilts, and country crafts. Mike and Cindy Breitbach work hard to maintain that Home Town Hospitality started by their ancestors more than 150 years ago.
Many visitors have visited Breitbach’s Country Dining over the years including a visit by gangster Jesse James, George Wendt (Norm) from Cheers, Brook Shields, and many politicians including Governor Branstad.
Whenever you visit the restaurant today, chances are you will be greeted by Mike Breitbach himself who will ask you to sign his guest book and fill you in more about his family’s rich heritage, and fascinating legacy, and about the fires that tried to end it all.
The Fires That Tried To End It All
In eighteen months Breitbach's Country Dining was struck by fire and completely destroyed, not once, but twice. The first fire which destroyed a 150 year old family business happened on December 24th, 2007. The family and this small community and many others throughout the country that had visited this family restaurant were devastated. It didn't take long for this community and others from all over the country to rally around the Breitbach Family. The process of rebuilding this icon, that had been branded Iowa's oldest Bar and Restaurant soon began, and less than six months after the fire a new restaurant was up and running. Bus loads of people came from all over Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and other parts of the country to see the work and enjoy the same home style cooking they had previously enjoyed.
Ten months to the day of the first fire on October 24th, 2008, Mike Breitbach once again received a call at 3:30am that his building was on fire. His heart sank as he and his family rushed to the restaurant. His business that had been built by love and community was now gone, again. After the second fire, the thought of rebuilding was more difficult. The family and the whole community were in shock. Everyone waited in wonder until just before Christmas 2008 Mike and his family announced that they would once again rebuild Iowa's oldest bar and restaurant.
Not long after the holiday the community once again rallied around the Breitbach family and the rebuilding began.
On August 1, 2009 people from everywhere flooded the small town of Balltown as Breitbach's Country Dining reopened it's doors. There were plenty of handshakes and hugs from owner Mike Breitbach as his wife Cindy served up the same home style cooking their patrons had missed for the last ten months.