Ever since Chris Priebe and Tom and Teresa Albert bought Millstream Brewing Company in Amana in 2000, they’ve had an idea for a restaurant in the back of their minds — something that could offer more than the craft beers and occasional grilled brats on the patio their taproom offers.
“We’ve always wanted to do a Germany beer hall,” Teresa Albert said.
That opportunity came this year, when they had the chance to purchase Amana mainstay Colony Inn. Nate Kula, of Williamsburg, had approached them last winter about opening a restaurant in Amana. His career has been in managing other people’s restaurants, most recently Falbo Brothers Pizzeria in Iowa City and Coralville, and he wanted to open his own business.
In June, Kula and the Millstream owners signed the paperwork to create the Millstream Brau Haus. They opened the doors Labor Day weekend.
Kula designed a menu featuring classic pub dishes like burgers and wings combined with German comfort food based on his own family’s recipes. A favorite is spaetzle mac ‘n’ cheese served with a brat made specially for the restaurant by Amana Meat Shop. The brats include flavors like Back Road Stout, made with Millstream beer, swiss mushroom and cheddar and jalapeno.
Customers keep bringing in family recipes from around the seven Amana villages, so he plans to expand the menu after this weekend’s Oktoberfest, an Amana tradition that brings scores of revelers to the Colonies.
A full slate of Millstream beers are on tap, with plans to add a small pilot brewing system behind the bar that will offer customers a taste of experimental batches only available at the bar.
The Colony Inn opened in 1932 in a building first constructed in 1860, when it was the Amana Hotel. To turn it into the Brau Haus, the new owners removed most of the second story, opening the space up to create a small loft overlooking an airy dining room. Refinished wood floors and exposed beams replaced carpet and wainscoting.
“We wanted that wow factor when people walked in,” Albert said.
But she didn’t want to loose the building’s history — the backroom of the expansive restaurant kept Colony Inn’s lace curtains and blue checkered table clothes. Elements of the Colony Inn and Amana Hotel remain in the front room as well; doors from old motel rooms on the second floor were used to build the bar in the front of the restaurant, and floor joists were used to rebuild the stairs.
Up those stairs, “Oma’s loft,” as the owners named it, is complete with leather couches and accessories that were left behind in the motel — a type writer, cabinets and end tables.
On the main floor, telephone poles from West and High Amana were made into wooden benches for the long tables, meant to hold more than one couple and encourage socialization, similar to the seating in a traditional German beer hall. Taxidermy deer and game birds watch diners from the walls alongside televisions playing sports — Albert said it is the first sports bar in town.
“I think we’re bringing something to the Amana Colonies that’s traditional but new,” she said. “We’re able to preserve our history through the building, through the food, but still bring something different to the Amanas."
WHERE: 741 47th Ave., Amana
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
DETAILS: (319) 622-7332