GROVE — Rheingarten Restaurant is the only authentic German restaurant on Grand Lake.
“To my knowledge, the closest German restaurant is in Oklahoma City,” owner Terry Ryan said, “and we are the oldest continuously ran restaurant in Grove.”
With a corporate background in accounting and sales, Terry and Gabi Ryan decided after their children were on their own they didn’t have to maintain their current lifestyle and decided to move to the lake and open a restaurant.
“Cooking was a hobby of mine, so it just seemed natural,” Ryan said.
Rheingarten means “Garden on the Rhine River” in German.
In a state known for platter-size chicken fried steaks and mounds of mashed potatoes smothered in chicken gravy, Rheingarten’s is famous for its Schnitzel.
Schnitzel is a tenderized, light-breaded pork tenderloin.
Another customer favorite is sauerbraten, which is round roast beef that has been marinating in red wine, vinegar, bay leaves and onions for at least three days.
Other specialties include German hot potato salad and a cold potato salad that is made from a family recipe.
Prices average less than $10 for lunch and around $22 for dinner.
The restaurant was established in an old 1919 Grove homestead that sits on Main Street.
At one time, Main Street in Grove was lined with old homes with large porches and yards full of oak and maple trees. Through the years, people would buy the old homes as they became available and local businesses started popping up.
Terry and Gabi Ryan bought their house in 1993 and started remodeling it into a restaurant.
“We tried not to disturb the integrity of the house,” Ryan said.
All of the crown moldings, casings, light fixtures, door handles were left alone, he said. The kitchen and bathroom area was remodeled and a wall removed between two small bedrooms which created a large dining room.
The original fireplace greets customers in the huge front room and a patio was added.
“You have to have an outdoor dining area if you are living on the lake,” Ryan said.
Ryan tells his customers that German cuisine has been part of his diet for 37 years.
“We just transferred our home kitchen to the restaurant’s kitchen,” Ryan said.
Opening up a German restaurant in Grove was initially a hard sell for the community, he said.
“We continue our marketing efforts to attract locals to the restaurant,” Ryan said.
Rheingarten was awarded outstanding restaurant on Grand Lake by the Grand Lake Association and the Integris Foundation Taste of Grand honored the restaurant with its “Best Ethnic Restaurant and its President’s Award.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday