KIEFER’S RESTAURANT began as a beer and bratwurst stand operated by William W. and Anna Kiefer at the GREAT LAKES EXPOSITION OF 1936. The popularity of the stand led the Kiefers to establish the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) restaurant at 2519 Detroit Ave. the following year, which specialized in German food.
The restaurant’s name was changed to Kiefer’s during World War II. Kiefer did the baking and prepared meats, while his wife handled the cooking and business matters. Noted for its wienerschnitzel, sauerbraten, and bratwurst, the 500-seat establishment was a popular meeting place for politicians, businessmen, and local groups attracted by its food and the nightclub atmosphere. Otto Thurn and his 4-piece band provided the entertainment for many years, conducting sing-alongs and playing German oompah music for dancing.
After 23 years in the business, the Kiefers sold their restaurant in 1960 to a syndicate headed by Jack and Joseph Klingbeil, who continued its tradition. In 1976, Kiefer’s was purchased by Fred Nagele and County Treasurer Francis E. Gaul. Under their management, the restaurant acquired an Irish-German flavor as week-long St. Patrick’s day celebrations added to the restaurant’s entertainment. Gaul and Nagele closed Kiefers in the summer of 1991, attributing its demise to the recession and the closing of the MAIN AVE. BRIDGE for repairs in April of that year.