Ox Yoke Inn turns 75 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ox Yoke Inn turns 75

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AMANA (KWWL) - A family-owned eastern Iowa restaurant turns 75 this year. Amana's Ox Yoke Inn has served more than 16 million people.

"Our chicken dinner when mother and father opened the restaurant was 65 cents," said owner Bill Leichsenring. "The roads were gravel and people had to travel on gravel roads to get here."

Seventy-five years later the roads are paved, that family-style dinner is now around $17.

But the restaurant is still here and it's still owned by eastern Iowans.

"This is where my father was born," said Leichsenring. "How many restaurants can say that their founder was born in their dining room?"

When the restaurant first opened, the family didn't have a name and a friend suggested to name it after the "ox yokes" that they have hanging around. Some of the originals are still outside the restaurant.

Leichsenring says it's the loyal customers who've helped the business become so successful.

"We've had so many people that we've gotten to know by name," said Leichsenring. "We've seen their children grow up from babies to now they're bringing their own children here."

The Gables and Richardsons have been coming to the restaurant once a month for more than a decade. They even have their own parking spot.

"You can attribute it to the good food and the friendship's that here," said Nancy Gable.

They believe the service keeps people coming.

Leichsenring hopes to hand the business down to his children, as his parents handed it down to him.

"We hope that 75 years from now, we'll be as strong as we are today," said Leichsenring.

In honor of its anniversary, the Ox Yoke Inn is holding several fundraising events with not-for-profits.

If you donate $75 to the Amana Heritage Museum or the pet shelter Safe Haven of Iowa County and you can get a matching gift card to the restaurant. There's also anniversary calendars on sale that help support the shelter.

Later this year, they'll have a fundraiser for Camp Courageous.
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