Have You Visited the Oldest Bar in Cedar Rapids?
The city of Cedar Rapids has plenty of bars to check out, but if you're looking for the one that has been around the longest, you'll need to head to the Czech Village. Little Bohemia, located at 1317 3rd Street SE, has been around for more than 80 years!
Little Bohemia is located inside of the Lesinger Block, a building constructed back in 1883 by Vaclav Lesinger, "a successful, first generation immigrant." A document from the National Register of Historic Places says that it was in a great location because it was close to the T.M. Sinclair and Company meat packing plant, which was a major employer of immigrants at that time. The building was initially home to Vaclav Lesinger's tailoring business and dry goods operation, as well as a grocery store, and later on it housed a barber shop and a hardware store. The corner space was transformed into a saloon in 1907 by Louis Pazdernik.
In 1936, after the end of prohibition, a beer distributor by the name of Paul Jerabek and his brother-in-law Adolph Kalous leased the corner space to open the Little Bohemia tavern. Marvin Cone ended up painting his iconic mural on the side of the building in 1941, five years before Adolph purchased the entire Lesinger Block from the family in 1946. According to the National Register of Historic Places:
"The new location proved to be an excellent site for Little Bohemia. Regular customers came from the nearby Bohemian residential neighborhoods and factories. Workers from Iowa Steel and Iron Works, the J.G. Cherry Company, Wilson & Co. meat packers, and dozens of smaller nearby manufacturing concerns and wholesale houses frequented the tavern."
In addition to drinks, Little Bohemia was also popular for their pig ear and pig snoot sandwiches and Bohemian goulash.
Leon "Tunnie" and Diane Melsha purchased the Lesinger Block in 1978 and reopened Little Bohemia in 1982 after doing some restoration work. It's had its ups and downs over the years, especially after the Flood of '08, but it is still in operation! To this day, it is managed by Leon and Diane's son Jeff, who just celebrated his 40-year anniversary at the bar earlier this year.
Little Bohemia is still known today for its homecooked meals, including their famous tenderloin! Travel Iowa's website reads:
"Little Bo's pork tenderloin is near perfection, a generous slab of ‘loin that is pounded flat, breaded and fried to order. It is just the right thickness, the subtly herbed breading helping retain the ‘loin's succulence."
Other favorites mentioned in online reviews include the goulash & dumplings, sauerkraut, burgers, baked beans, and kielbasa. Little Bohemia has a 4.7-star rating based on Google reviews.
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