This is a family affair in motion.
“Today, we’re setting up for lunch,” said Cindy Breitbach, mother of seven adult children, ranging in age from 25 to 35.
Inside Breitbach’s Country Dining, sixth generation owners Mike and Cindy Breitbach spend long days serving good food and friendship.
“It’s like going to grandma’s house because you never want to leave,” Mike said. “It’s like going back home.”
It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1850′s. That makes it Iowa’s oldest bar and restaurant. No wonder why the kitchen is so busy.
“There cannot be any mentality of ‘it’s good enough,’” Cindy said, between stirs of homemade chicken and dumplings. “It’s got to be as good as we can do it.”
“You walk in here, and you’re a stranger only once,” Mike added.
But Breitbach’s almost didn’t make it to a seventh generation. The restaurant was destroyed by fire, not once but twice. Tragedy struck on Christmas Eve 2007 and another fire on October 24, 2008.
After two rebuilds and tons of community support, incredibly it’s back and better than ever.
“Maybe the rest of the world should take an example of what happened in Balltown, Iowa,” Mike said. “What you can do if you cooperate and help together.”
That remarkable comeback reinforced Breitbach’s role in this community. More than a bar and restaurant, it’s really the place to be.
About a two-hour drive from the Quad Cities, Breitbach’s is a comfortable day trip. The stretch from Dubuque offers magnificent views and beautiful scenery. It’s in tiny Balltown, population 49.
“Anybody who wants to be successful has got to appreciate their customers,” Cindy said.
“We haven’t lost the touch,” Mike added. “We haven’t lost the Midwestern touch.”
That’s what brought Charlie Kunstorf and relatives on a recent weekday.
“This is a great place to go,” he said.
They visit at least once a year. It’s a chance to enjoy good food and good friends.
“We love this,” Charlie said. “It’s right down our alley.”
“That’s a great feeling when you feel like you’re welcome,” Colleen Gibbins said.
Mike and Cindy go out of their way to help customers feel at home. It’s a philosophy for the future.
“You go back home and say, man, I went to Balltown, Iowa,” Mike said. “The view was outstanding. The food is good, and the people are the friendliest I’ve ever met in the world.”
A family affair in motion, it’s just the right pace at Breitbach’s.
Breitbach’s Country Dining is open from 8 to 8, Tuesday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday, it’s open until 9:30, and until 7:30 on Sunday.
You’ll find it on the Great River Road in Balltown, Iowa.