Taking another bite of the most delicious potato salad I’ve ever eaten (except for Mom’s) and then another bite of my Monte Cristo sandwich, I was in bliss as the music lulled me into a daydream in which I was surrounded by never-ending authentic German cuisine.

Taking another bite of the most delicious potato salad I’ve ever eaten (except for Mom’s) and then another bite of my Monte Cristo sandwich, I was in bliss as the music lulled me into a daydream in which I was surrounded by never-ending authentic German cuisine.

Just a few moments before I had entered the warm and inviting Rheinland Restaurant. On the counter lay a guest book, and a collage of friends dining at Rheinland hung on the wall above, as mouth-watering desserts cried out to me from the glass case.    

After lunch, I had the pleasure of meeting Heinz and Rosie Heinzelmann, owners of Rheinland Restaurant, and their daughter, Sandra Heinzelmann, owner of Wellness Point, located just above the restaurant. Rosie’s striking blue eyes sparkled as she told of how they came to America and settled in Independence in 1986.

“I remember when we met Nina, owner of the Scandanavia Place,” she said.

“She pointed across the street to the vacant building and encouraged us to open our business there,” she added.

A couple of people told Heinz and Rosie they should choose a different part of town, one that wasn’t desolate like the Independence Square.

“We had already signed the paperwork!” Heinz said with a laugh.

That was in February 1991. Now, nearly 20 years later, they are still going strong. “From day one we were busy,” said Rosie. Using her own recipes and a few of her mother’s and some from Heinz’s mother, only handmade, authentic fare is served. Loyal customers travel across the metro area and state lines to dine at the Rheinland, named after the beautiful River Rhein that winds through some of Germany’s most historic cities, castles and exquisite vineyards.

With a passion to bring made-from-scratch German cuisine to the heartland, Heinz and Rosie took a chance and invested their business at a time and place that some considered risky at best. But they have thrived. Thirteen years ago they expanded, adding a private dining room to the south where weddings, birthdays, fundraisers, anniversaries and other special occasions are celebrated. Five years ago they bought the building, and plans are under way to renovate the façade.

Come to Rheinland to watch the World Cup, and on Oct. 16 celebrate Oktoberfest followed by Fasching (Mardi Gras) in February and Maifest in May. And you don’t want to miss their 20th anniversary in February. Remember it is German tradition for the customer to ask for the ticket, as dining is an experience to be enjoyed with friends and family. You’ll want to try the house favorites, jagerschnitzel and sauerbraten and roulade with spatzle and red cabbage. No doubt I plan to return to try these dishes topped off with bread pudding.