The owners of Breitbach’s Country Dining vow to rebuild after the restaurant, believed to be the oldest in Iowa, exploded and was gutted by fire on Monday. The eatery in the Dubuque County town of Balltown had opened in the 1850s, originally as a stage coach stop.
Mike Breitbach is the sixth generation Breitbach owner of the family bar and grill and he says they’ll be back. "I told my wife the first of May. My birthday’s the second of May and I want to be back in operation the second of May when we walk in," Breitbach says. The small town is rallying around Breitbach.
Since the restaurant burned, he says he’s gotten more offers of help than he knows what to do with, and one family even gave him $300 to get started rebuilding. Donald Ritt says the Breitbachs are good neighbors. Ritt says "Over the last, however many years since he took over, if there was a death in the community or somebody had a fire, Mike always brought food or whatever it took. He was always there to help."
The blast and fire happened about 8:30 A.M. on Monday and since then, hundreds of former patrons, and others, have driven by to see the destruction, like this unidentified man. He says, "It’s all gone. I couldn’t believe it myself when I first saw it." No one was hurt in the blaze. The eatery opened in 1852 and Breitbach says it was the only restaurant in the world visited by both outlaw Jesse James and actress Brooke Shields.