Taste the Tradition: Peacock Alley, the oldest restaurant in Bismarck, and its long history

Local News

We’re taking another look at one of the oldest establishments in our community.

Peacock Alley is not only the oldest restaurant in Bismarck but in the state of North Dakota.

We spoke to the owner who tells us it has quite a bit of history.

“It’s more than a restaurant and it’s definitely more than a bar. It’s a big part of our community,” said Owner Dale Zimmerman.

Peacock Alley is in the historic Patterson building in the downtown area and has been in business since 1933.

One woman who’s worked at the Peacock for more than 15 years says there’s nothing quite like it.

“I absolutely love it. We get people from all over. They hear so much about the Patterson Hotel. To be able to say that I’ve worked in a place that the restaurant’s 100 years old and to be a part of that, it’s phenomenal,” said server Julene Gutanecht.

Zimmerman says since he bought the restaurant 11 years ago, he’s been doing everything he can to preserve what it means to so many people.

“We’re never really the owners of the Peacock Alley, we’re more like the stewards of the Peacock Alley. If you look at the woodwork in the restaurant and the mirrors, those are all original. A lot of the mirrors have age marks on them. We distinguish our history, notable things that have happened in this location over the years. Like we have an area where four U.S. presidents have been in this building,” said Zimmerman.

Movie stars, senators and even U.S. presidents have dined in the Peacock.

Zimmerman says it even had a role in the prohibition era.

“The Western part of the state, being German heritage, really wanted alcohol. The Eastern part of the state, being Scandinavian, didn’t. So, there was a lot of places in downtown Bismarck where alcohol was served illegally. This building was one of them,” said Zimmerman.

If you’re from Bismarck, you might have even heard rumors that there are tunnels below the restaurant.

“There are rumors! We have no evidence that it’s true. You haven’t done any poking around, we have done lots, yes. When they redid Main Avenue in 2001. We were hoping we would be able to find some remnants of tunnels and stuff downstairs, but there wasn’t any. In the basement of this building, there’s a door — when you open it up, there’s a concrete wall. It makes you wonder why there would be a door here, but we have no evidence,” said Zimmerman.

When people from all over the world come to Bismarck, Peacock Alley is one of their first stops. Zimmerman says they plan to keep its story alive and carry on its legacy for future generations.

If you’re wondering will there ever be more than one Peacock Alley, the owner says no, you can’t beat the original.

While the restaurant maintains its historic charm, they still keep up with the changing times.

They have a state-of-the-art multimedia system in the Langer Room, named after former North Dakota Governor Bill Langer.

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