Iowa City Hamburg Inn No. 2 to potentially close in 2023

The restaurant, established in 1935, is a famed location for presidential hopefuls campaigning in Iowa.


Grace Kreber

Hamburg Inn No. 2 is seen on April 6, 2022.

Cooper Worth, News Editor

Hamburg Inn No. 2, Iowa City’s famed restaurant for hosting political candidates, may close for the unforeseeable future, according to restaurant management. 

Located at 214 N. Linn St., the restaurant has been an Iowa City staple for nearly nine decades. 

On Dec. 30 , Hamburg Assistant Manager Katy Wells confirmed to The Daily Iowan that the restaurant will close Jan. 8, 2023.

She said it is uncertain whether Hamburg will be closed indefinitely or temporarily due to a lack of communication with the owner, Michael Lee. 

Lee purchased the restaurant and the building from the Panther family in 2016. Various members of the Panther family ran the restaurant from its opening in the late 1930s until Lee gained ownership.

On Saturday, however, KCRG reported that the attorney representing Hamburg Inn. No. 2 said the  restaurant isn’t closing and will continue to remain open with reduced hours.

Attorney Kim Baer said “there are no plans to close the restaurant” and is operating on reduced hours to deal with plumbing issues, according to the KCRG report.

Wells said current management decided to close temporarily because of various circumstances, but is not sure if Lee will close the restaurant indefinitely after Jan. 8. 

“We’re not able to pay people,” she said.  “We also just found out that one of our sewer mains broke. They’re going to have to completely tear out the basement floor and replace it, and I just don’t think that’s a cost [the owner] is willing to incur right now.” 

Wells has worked for the restaurant since June. She said it has been upsetting for the staff not knowing if the closure will be permanent. 

“We just decided to all collaborate together and try to keep this place open for a couple more weeks so we can make enough money to make sure people get paid and things like that,” she said. “We don’t want to just walk right away from this.” 

The Hamburg Inn’s second restaurant, located on Rochester Avenue, closed in February 2020.