As he toiled away on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company, autoworker Karl Kurz dreamed of opening a traditional German tavern like those he remembered from his hometown of Weikersheim, Germany. In 1933, he finally got his chance, working nights and weekends to convert a dilapidated Chinese hand laundry into a tiny bar that he called the Dakota Inn Rathskeller.
Eighty years later, the Rathskeller—now run by Karl's grandson—has expanded from three tiny stools to 2,000 square feet. The eclectic décor pays tribute to Karl's memory: trophy animal heads and RV hood ornaments seized during family hunting trips decorate the walls, and hand-painted murals depict scenes from Karl's life, including a rabbit hunt and a group of friends downing enormous mugs of beer. Through arched porticos, waiters in traditional German-style garb deliver Bavarian bratwurst, pork schnitzel, and German-style potato pancakes known as kartoffelpuffer. At night, the hand-carved walls reverberate with German drinking songs such as the “Schnitzelbank”—or woodworker’s bench—as if in tribute to Karl’s remodeling efforts.