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Hamburg Inn announces temporary closure in Iowa City under new management
Attorney: Iconic restaurant plans to reopen in February after repairs
IOWA CITY — Managers at the Hamburg Inn No. 2 told customers and reporters that the iconic restaurant would close over the weekend — and it did, though an attorney for the owner says not permanently.
The on-again, off-again closure of the restaurant — a landmark that has drawn politicians including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — has been a continuing saga since last month.
Its local management initially told The Gazette on Dec. 30 the restaurant would close indefinitely starting Sunday, due to difficulty in getting in touch with the owner, who lives in Taiwan. At that time, management said that the Northside Neighborhood building needed repairs that could not be made due to a lack of resources available.
Subsequently, however, an attorney for owner Michael Lee refuted that — telling The Gazette the restaurant would remain open but with limited hours through the next few weeks to repair the roof and other parts of the building.
But it did close after all. In a statement, the lawyer said the closure is just temporary, and that it would reopen Feb. 1 after “physical and spiritual 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.”
The statement from attorney Kim Bauer also notes that the Dec. 30 payroll checks to staff “may not have been given to employees by the management” amid a shift from direct deposit to paper paychecks. The owner is working with the restaurant’s accountants to determine who has not yet been paid, she said.
Employees who have not received their Dec. 30 pay were encouraged to contact management by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Effective last Thursday, the restaurant is also under newly-hired management.
Lee, a native of China and a University of Iowa graduate, purchased the restaurant at 204 N. Linn St. from Dave Panther in 2016.
'I love it so much, I don't want to change anything,” Lee told The Gazette in 2016.
Lee said he had stopped in at the Hamburg Inn No. 2 a few months before for breakfast and simply fell in love with the place. Panther was already looking to sell the restaurant.
Panther’s family had owned the restaurant since 1948. It first opened in 1935.
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