Breitbach's is back again - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Breitbach's is back again


BALLTOWN (KWWL) -- Iowa's oldest restaurant is back again, rebuilt for a second time, after two fires in two years destroyed the building. Last October, a fire burnt Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown to the ground. That was just ten months after a gas explosion caused a fire that ruined the original building on Christmas Eve, 2007.

"It's a very happy day in Balltown!" and "Breitbach's is back! Hallelujah!" Those just a couple of things shouted during a brief ceremony before the doors officially opened Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

Even after two fires, the 157-year-old Balltown, and Iowa, tradition is back. But getting to the point where the doors are back open took time, and hard work.

"The entire Balltown community put their heart and soul, and backs, hands, and feet, and legs into this building."

Construction started in March, and the Breitbachs worked until late Friday night, anxious for reopening.

"I'm nervous for the crowd. Nervous about opening again for the second time around. Just so many things, it was kind of a race down to the opening, but as you can see, it turned out pretty good," owner Mike Breitbach said just minutes before reopening.

Now, even with the building finished, the kitchen bustling, and food ready to go, there's still nerves.

"Nine months ago, when we burned up, we were very, very busy. I mean, we served thousands of people a day in a town of 53. What's going to happen nine months later? We don't know," Breitbach said.

Breitbach says the times have changed, and so might business.

"When we burned down on October 24th, 2008, we were before elections, things weren't too bad, unemployment was probably 3 or 4%, now we're looking at unemployment at 9 or 10%. What's it going to do to our business? It's a toss-up, and I'm very nervous about it."

Longtime Breitbach's customers say they'll always be here, and they guess others will be too.

"I grew up in Balltown, so Breitbach's is, you know, my life, sort of," Mike Gansemer said. "I came over with my parents, get groceries when they had the grocery store, and I'd always get to pick out some candy or something."

Ultimitely, that's exactly why Breitbach's is, again, "Back from the Blast", because of a longtime tradition, and community.

"That was a big part of that decision is the local community and what they did for us, and what we owed back to them," Breitbach said.

One new feature of this building is a $200,000 sprinkler system, one that owners hope never needs turned on. The cause of the second fire is still under investigation.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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