116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
BELLE PLAINE – A Tama café owner decided to take the advice of his customers and purchase the historical Lincoln Café in Belle Plaine.
Gzim “Jimmy” Limani, 37, owner of King's Tower Café in Tama, said Monday it took about two months or so but he closed the deal about two weeks ago.
“My customers from Belle Plaine told me I should buy it, so I did,” Limani, who's originally from Albania, said. “It's a historical building and the people in town are really excited about it. They have been very supportive.”
The previous owner of the Lincoln Café, Curtis Bailey, of Marengo, was murdered in his home last summer and the café closed. Limani purchased the café from Bailey's ex-wife, Michelle Geary, who is executor of his estate.
A former waitress at the café, Jessica Dayton, 20, of Belle Plaine, was convicted of first-degree murder in April, and his former girlfriend, Denise Frei, 44, of Marengo, and her son Jacob Hilgendorf, 19, of Belle Plaine, also charged with first-degree murder, will stand trial in January.
Bailey was beaten to death with landscaping rock, according to evidence at Dayton's trial.
Limani, who said he wasn't bothered by the history of the café because he didn't know Bailey and he knew the murder didn't occur at the restaurant.
Some residents in Belle Plaine on Monday said they were excited to see an old business come back and looked forward to another restaurant in town.
“I've heard good things about it,” said Vicki Mumm, owner of Wave Station, which is located next door to the café. “I didn't go over there much before but it sounds like (new owner) is going to have good food.”
Limani, his son Arijan, 14, and another worker have almost gutted the inside of the building and the kitchen will be the first room that gets renovated. All of the kitchen equipment is piled up in the main seating area for now.
“The place is old and needs cleaning and we've ripped it down to the bones, to the bricks. It's down to the bricks in the kitchen.”
Limani's wife, Kristy, said they started at the back of the building and working their way up.
“I don't think anyone has renovated the building in 30 or so years,” Kristy Limani said. “I think when a new owner came in, they just opened it.”
Limani said almost everything like the floors, ceiling and lights will be replaced or repaired and there will be new tables and booths. The outside of the café will also get updated with the help of KB Construction in Belle Plaine.
“I want to keep the original sign and it will stay the Lincoln Café,” Limani said smiling. “I don't want to change that.”
Limani said the café will open sometime in September and it will feature home-style cooking and be open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.