After the fire: Breitbach's regulars back for lunch - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

After the fire: Breitbach's regulars back for lunch

Balltown (KWWL) -- Friday, Iowa's oldest restaurant burned down for the second time in a year. Volunteers helped rebuild the restaurant the first time it burned on Christmas Eve 2007. Workers and volunteers rebuilt the restaurant in just 69 days opening in mid-June.

"I woke up and came right over. Couldn't believe it. Terrible," Balltown native Tony Duehr said.

Phones rang off the hook in Balltown Friday morning as neighbors calling to pass the unthinkable news: Breitbach's burning again.

"It was just engulfed in flames. And it was coming down," Duehr said.

For Balltown natives and regulars, like several men from the auto shop in lower Balltown, this now two-time tragedy can't keep them down.

"We came up here six days a week to eat, and the last time it burned down, the day after, mike said, come on up here, we're serving food for you guys, for you guys that come in all the time. Yesterday, we stayed at the shop, and we ate there. But he called this morning and said, come on up," Duehr said.

With the potluck going on inside, investigators toured the remains outside looking for answers.

Breitbach's employees say they locked up the restaurant around 8:30 pm on Thursday. It caught fire around seven hours later in the middle of the night. Investigators from law enforcement and the insurance company are trying to decide what could have caused this brand new building to go up in flames.

But around the wooden table in the wine shed, for the second time this year, the talk isn't just about the fire, it's of rebuilding.

"We're all ready to help again. Whatever it takes," Duehr said.

Owners haven't decided if they will rebuild, but they know there are people ready to do it. Owners say investigators are coming from around the country to search for the cause of the fire. They will meet next month to review their findings.

Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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