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Breitbach's wins pork tenderloin contest, donates prize to Hospice of Dubuque

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 12/06/2012 2:42 PM

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Breitbach's Country Dining

Location: Balltown, Iowa

Owners: Mike and Cindy Breitbach

Hours: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Known for pies, soups and lunch and dinner buffets. "Everything is made from scratch," said Cindy. "We don't get anything out of a jar or can except what we can't make. We even make our own pickled beets and corn relish."

Cindy, who bakes the pies, said apple, peach, walnut, blueberry, pumpkin, coconut cream and snicker cream, their signature pie, are on the menu. In the summer they add strawberry. When it's busy, she makes lemon meringue and once in a while, a double crust raisin. A piece of pie is $3.50.

Contact them at (563) 552-2220. Website is

BALLTOWN, Iowa —When Mike and Cindy Breitbach learned that Breitbach's Country Dining was the 2012 winner of Iowa's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin, they shared the honor with the community.

As winners of the Iowa Pork Producers Association-sponsored contest, the Breitbachs received $500 and a plaque. The couple decided to share their good fortune with Hospice of Dubuque. They donated their contest prize plus they threw in another $500.

"We got a call from Mike Breitbach, and he explained how he won the pork tenderloin contest and he wanted to give the prize money to us plus double it," said Lavonne Noel, executive director of Hospice of Dubuque. "He also invited us to come to the award ceremony and have a pork tenderloin. We are very grateful for his generosity."

Mike said he and Cindy didn't know anything about the pork tenderloin contest. Judges came to try their tenderloins several times, but the couple didn't think too much of it until the last time when they learned they were in the top five.

"We didn't realize how big the contest was in Iowa," Mike said. "I got calls from people all over the state congratulating us."

"It was very nice to be in the running, but very very nice for them to think we do the best job," said Cindy as she rolled out crusts for homemade pies in the restaurant kitchen. "I'm happy about that."

Mike said his mother-in-law, grandfather and uncle have all used the services of Hospice of Dubuque. The couple believe giving back to the community is important. They host Red Cross blood drives and anyone who donates blood gets a free meal. The next blood drive is Nov. 29.

Their tenderloin recipe is secret, Mike said, adding that if he told what makes it special "my wife would probably kill me."

"But I will say that we do not run them through a tenderizer. We tenderize them the old-fashioned way with a hammer. We use a certain kind of pork, a certain kind of breading and certain spices."

In an average week, he and Cindy sell as many as 200 pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Duane Cook of Holy Cross nominated Breitbach's and will receive $100 from IPPA. His was one of 993 nominations submitted, said Nelda Christian, who heads up IPPA's Restaurant and Food Service Committee. Sixty-five restaurants received the required three or more nominations. Initial judging was by IPPA producer members. Finalists were selected and judged by Christian's committee.

In addition to breaded pork tenderloins (deep friend and grilled), the restaurant serves pork schnitzel as part of its German buffet. Pork roast is part of the dinner buffet, and country ham steak and bacon-wrapped pork chops are on the menu. Every Saturday night they go through 80 to 150 pounds of barbecued ribs.

"We make each other look good," Mike said. "We make growers look good, and they make us look good with the meat."

The Breitbachs also farm. Their seven grown children all worked in the restaurant from the time they were five years old. Three still work with the business full or part-time, and the rest help when needed.

Breitbach's Country Dining has been in business since 1852 and is Iowa's oldest bar and restaurant. Mike is the fourth generation of his family to own and run the establishment.

They have five full-time and a number of part time employees.