IOWA CITY — Three and a half weeks after receiving word that the Hamburg Inn No. 2 was on fire, owner Dave Panther remains positive.
“I think we’ll have some sort of celebration, maybe call it ‘Burning down the house,’” Panther said with a laugh when asked about his plans for reopening.
It had been estimated the restaurant would reopen after three weeks of repairs. But now, Panther said it could be three to four weeks before any opening celebration willtake place, and there will be a much larger price tag for repairs.
“I didn’t realize how extensive it (the damage) was. It may cost $100,000, maybe more, by the time all of it is done,” Panther said. “I originally thought it would be in the tens of thousands. We hit that mark pretty fast.”
Flooring is being torn up and nearly everything in the basement, including the wiring, portions of the plumbing and heater, need to be replaced.
On Wednesday, Panther was working to knock down walls in the almost completely gutted basement where the fire first started May 18. The Iowa City Fire Department ruled that the fire was an accident and started after hot rags spontaneously combusted on a shelf after being removed from a dryer.
“It (the fire) flooded our basement with smoke,” said Chelsea Heck, who works at IC Ugly’s Saloon. Employees at IC Ugly’s were the first to call in the fire and alert residents that lived in the apartments above the restaurant. Heck, who was not working the night of the fire, said IC Ugly’s workers have seen a lot of people who seem confused by the closed Hamburg Inn, even though the 214 N. Linn St. building has multiple signs about the closure posted.
“A lot of people have dropped by,” Panther said. “There have been people walking by and looking in the window.”
Panther explained that outside of the many necessary repairs, he also is looking at repainting and putting up new wallpaper so the restaurant will be “better than ever” when it reopens.
The building is more than 100 years old and became the home of the Hamburg Inn No. 2 when Panther’s parents, Fritz and Fran, purchased the building in 1948.
Panther is thinking of selling “We Survived the Fire” T-shirts during the reopening, though no plans are set in stone. He did, however, say that he plans to once again host political candidates at the restaurant as soon as the business is up and running again.
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