The Hamburg Inn No. 2 will have a grand opening for its second location on Tuesday. When Michael Lee purchased the iconic Iowa City diner in 2016, he told The Gazette he’d thought about the possibility of opening a second Hamburg Inn location in his hometown of Shanghai. But the new Hamburg Inn is much closer to the original downtown location than Shanghai. It’s on the east side of Iowa City at 2221 Rochester Ave.
“We are extremely pleased to open this new store on Rochester Avenue. We believe the east side of Iowa City deserves a restaurant such as Hamburg Inn, and we are excited to be expanding the beloved Hamburg Inn No. 2 brand,” Lee said in a press release announcing the grand opening.
The new location looks much like the original. Autographed photos of politicians, both national and local, decorate the walls. (There’s also an autographed photo of film director John Waters, a man unlikely to ever run for elective office, by the front door.) The menu is almost identical to the one on Linn Street, and includes such longtime favorites as pie shakes.
The new location has slightly different hours. According to the press release (and a handwritten sign posted on the door), it is only open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The original is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Hamburg Inn has been famous for decades as a spot where eager politicians with presidential ambitions woo voters during the Iowa Caucuses, so it’s only appropriate that local political figures will be attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce is staging at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
The new restaurant is the first location in an ambitious expansion program Lee has planned. The press release promises 15 Hamburg Inns across Iowa in “the near future.” Plans also call for other locations nationwide, and Lee still intends to open a Hamburg Inn in China.