Iowa City Hamburg Inn No. 2 to reopen in February

The restaurant famous for hosting presidential candidates plans to reopen following maintenance repairs.


Grace Kreber

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

Cooper Worth, News Editor

Hamburg Inn No. 2, the Iowa City restaurant famous for hosting political candidates, will reopen in February following confusion from restaurant staff and management surrounding its temporary closure.

Kim Baer, a Des Moines attorney representing Hamburg Inn Owner Michael Lee, told The Gazette in a statement that the restaurant will reopen on Feb. 1 following maintenance repairs. 

“We know you deeply care about Hamburg Inn — our collective treasure in downtown Iowa City and a proud historical landmark,” the statement said. “Michael Lee and his professional service staff are looking forward to moving past this situation and reopening this iconic restaurant with uplifting spirit and renewed energy.”

Katy Wells, assistant manager of Hamburg, told the DI on Dec. 30 that it was uncertain whether the restaurant would be closed indefinitely or temporarily due to a lack of communication with the owner who lives in Taiwan, costs associated with fixing a sewer main, and not being able to pay staff. 

The attorney’s statement said the Dec. 30 payroll checks to staff “may not have been given to employees by the management,” according to the Gazette article. 

Located at 214 N. Linn St., the restaurant has been an Iowa City staple for nearly nine decades, having been visited by former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama and hosting the Coffee Bean Caucus every primary season. 

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

Owner Michael 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.