Quick history lesson for you. The Civil war began 162 years ago, in 1861, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. According to Senate, On April 12, Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor. Did you know there is a bar located just northeast of Dubuque that is close to a decade older than that? This bar was around 6 years after Iowa was recognized as a state. Is it just me or is that pretty crazy? This bar has been operational since 1852, according to the Des Moines Register.

We're talking about the 1850s... During that time, according to Sovereignhilledblog, the first dishwasher was invented, we saw the first popular sewing machine, the first ever zipper-style clothing, so they no longer had to deal with button shirts, and the charcoal iron was around.

I know you're aware times were different in the 1850s but to really think about how long ago that was, and how long this business has existed is insane to me. So many different things could've happened to this place to prevent this business from continuing on.

Not a single family member who has been in charge of the business has sold it or torn it down to start a completely new business idea. The business has just kept chugging along decade after decade. To think about how different things are and how the business has had to adapt after all of these years is pretty astounding in my opinion.

It's possible you've heard of or been to this place. It's located in a small town northwest of Dubuque, Iowa, called Balltown. It has made headlines for various reasons but you may remember a gas explosion and fire destroying the original building back in 2007. A replacement building was built shortly after and according to the Des Moines Register and the 169-year-old business itself has never stopped operating. It has been passed down through 6 generations and is currently owned by Mike Breitbach.

I'm talking about Breitbach's Country Dining.

Google Maps
Google Maps


Iowa's oldest restaurant and bar. I've heard about Breitbach's before and it's likely if you're from Iowa you have to but did you really know how old "oldest" meant? I sure didn't. When I was a kid my dad used to tell me he was "older than dirt." If he considered himself older than dirt, I wonder how old he'd consider Breitbach's to be.

Having lived in Iowa for about 6 months, my fiance and I can now add "must visit Iowa's oldest bar" to our growing list of adventures we need to go on.

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