The Hamburg Inn Story

Iowa City's oldest family-owned restaurant since 1948

The Hamburg Inn opened in the mid-1930s under Joe Panther on Iowa Avenue. Nicknamed “grease spots,” burgers sold for a nickel. Joe's brother, Adrian, joined in the business and eventually bought the restaurant.

In 1948, Mrs. Van's Restaurant on North Linn Street was bought by another brother, Fritz Panther and his wife, Fran. Adrian and Fritz formed a partnership with Hamburg Inn No. 1 and No. 2, opening Big Ten Inn on Riverside Drive and the Airport Inn over the years. Hamburg Inn No. 3 was located in Cedar Rapids on Center Point Road. Hamburg Inn No. 2 is the only remaining location. Dave Panther, Fritz and Fran's son, bought the restaurant from his parents in 1979, continuing the tradition of “Comfort Food in a Fifties Time Capsule.” Dave has also been a professional clown and storyteller for over 15 years.

Hamburg Inn No. 2, one of Iowa's most famous restaurants, was featured in the Washington Post's “Great American Hamburger Debate,” National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and Susan Stramburg's “Every Night at Five.” The Quad City Times called us “a piece of Americana.” It was a film location for the movie “Zadar, Cow from Hell.”

Politicians and candidates frequently visit the Inn when they swing through Iowa City, including President Ronald Reagan in 1992 and President Bill Clinton in 2003. The Burg is the host of the official Iowa Coffee Bean Caucus and Iowa Coffee Bean Ballot, helping to attract local, state, national and international interest to Iowa politics.

Michael Lee bought the Hamburg Inn in 2016 and has plans for massive international expansion, starting with a second location in Iowa City on Riverside Drive opened the following year. 

Hamburg Inn Downtown

214 North Linn Street,

Iowa City, IA 52245

Phone. 319-337-5512

Hamburg Inn East

2221 Rochester Ave,

Iowa City, IA 52245

Phone. 319-519-2500