Gibson City, Ill. (WCIA).
“I didn’t work here in the beginning because I was scared to wear a dirndl, the German dress. I thought I would be embarrassed because when my parents first opened this place I was in high school. But then business picked up and I saw what the waitresses were earning so I put on a dirndl and everything is history.”
Jeanne Shun Schnabel never planned on taking over the German restaurant her parents opened in 1991. But through the years, she’s not only found a deep appreciation for her German heritage,
she’s made it her livelihood.
“I’m really proud that me and my husband could take over and run the place and carry on the traditions of all the recipes.”
The Bayern Stube is more or less a Gibson City institution.
People travel from Champaign, Bloomington, and even Springfield to enjoy these Bavarian staples and german beer.
“Its a lot of meat and potatoes and sauces,” says Schnabel.
The restaurant serves up everything from schnitzel to traditional sausage, pork, and beef recipes, but just as important as the food, is the décor.
In fact, it hasn’t changed much over the years. Walking in feels like entering your German grandmother’s cottage. The walls are covered in antiques, signs, and dishes. And for many people, enjoying a meal in this environment is as close to Germany as one can get in Illinois.
“I think they like coming in here to our little museum,” says Schnabel. “You know a lot of people say its kitchy. You know it is but how else am I going to show you Germany.”
Of course, comfort is of the essence here at Bayern Stube.
When translated into English, Bayern Stube actually means Bavarian living room.
“That’s the name you know. It’s Bavarian living room. A cozy little area where you can sit and have dinner. That was the whole dream of my parents,” says Schnabel.
It would also be wrong not to mention the restaurant’s incredible taxidermy collection, about half of which come from a central Illinois taxidermist.
“The other half comes from my grandfather. So we shipped that over here in a container because he was a hunter/game warden in Germany back in the 60s. So a lot of these things are really old,” says Schnabel.
Like restaurants all over the country, the pandemic has caused Bayern Stube to make some adjustments. After months of curbside service, the restaurant is now open for indoor and outdoor dining with limitations.
Masks are required and social distancing is in place. But in the wake of these difficult times, Schnabel says she’s just grateful her community has shown up for her.
“The support has just been amazing. I mean we could have not have dreamed of the support that we have had from customers.”
But the city too has shown support too, allowing the restaurant to expand onto the sidewalk and even providing tables to furnish the outdoor space.
“There’s a café permit for outdoor seating, we got that in record time. We got our outdoor liquor license in record time. I’m really thankful and I’m glad that we’re in Gibson City.”