Iconic Hamburg Inn opens second location - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iconic Hamburg Inn opens second location

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

An Eastern Iowa restaurant known for political stops on the campaign trail is opening new doors.

The Hamburg Inn in Iowa City held a grand opening for its second location on the east side of town at 2221 Rochester Avenue. The new spot is part of a massive expansion which extends to parts of China.

Hamburg Inn first opened back in the mid-1930's. The following decade, two more locations opened up: Hamburg Inn No. 2 and Hamburg Inn No.3. For decades, only Hamburg Inn No. 2 was still open.  Now, a new location joins the restaurants long history.

The restaurant has become to be known as a political hotbed on the campaign trail with former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan.  They all made stops at the Inn, among many other candidates.

"We've had both the Clintons come in, McCain was in there, Biden's been there. Romney had come in. John Edwards. Romney had one of the bigger turnouts. We've had a pretty good mix of politicians that have come in," former, long-time owner, Dave Panther, said.

Panther sold the family restaurant back in 2016 to Michael Lee. It was under Lee that a massive expansion of the business was put in the works.

"He's already got three locations in China that will be more of a higher-end type restaurant that he's working on, so I think, like I say, my uncles and my parents would be just overwhelmed with the possibilities of where this could go," Panther said.

The new spot, though smaller, will still bring some of the political charm with it. Inside, the walls are decorated with politicians who have come through the doors over the years. The grand opening event was also attended by current political figures, such as Congressman Dave Loebsack, who has had events at the restaurant in the past.

"Before I became a Congressman, the Hamburg Inn was special because so many political candidates come through, especially Presidential on both sides of the aisle," Loebsack said."I think it's a right of passage, if you think you want to be President of the United States, you better come to the Hamburg Inn."

The expansion to China is something Loebsack expects to be a great success.

"It'll advertise Iowa in China, which I think is always a good thing, and with former-Governor Branstad now our Ambassador to China, I think it works perfectly," he said.

Lee said he hopes to open 30 locations in the state of Iowa alone. 

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