The story behind Otto’s Place

When we were trying to come up with an appropriate name for our restaurant, we thought of several clever and catchy ideas. We liked a lot of them but weren’t sold on any of them.

After doing research on the building we discovered that it was built in 1899 by a man named Otto Sallman. His intent was to have a restaurant. An article we found from the Galena Daily Gazette dated October 20, 1899 states, “Otto Sallman’s Restaurant Handsomely Equipped” “The lower floor is divided up into a sample room, buffet, ladies’ waiting room and a restaurant with a kitchen attached from which will be served lunches and meals at all hours.” Due to financial difficulties, sadly, Otto was never able to open his much acclaimed establishment.

Suddenly it hit us, ‘what about calling it Otto’s Place’? Seemed like a good idea and we were leaning heavily towards that.

Upon further investigation we learned that the week we originally looked at the building was the same week in 1914 that Otto died! Done! It had to be called Otto’s Place!

Otto’s Place is the quiet place. This is an establishment where you can come and enjoy a meal, an appetizer, a piece of homemade dessert, a cup of coffee or glass of wine and actually enjoy the conversation of the people you are with.

Our intent is that Otto’s Place will be an off Main street alternative for local Galenians as well as for tourists seeking a quiet and peaceful retreat and relaxing experience.

Otto lived upstairs in this building, next to the train tracks for years. Ironically enough, Otto was killed on the train tracks in Chicago, IL. It is said that people have often seen the figure of a man walking along the train tracks by our building. Could it be Otto saying ‘welcome friends, enjoy my restaurant’?

We think so!

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance Adrian June 18, 2016 at 9:51 am

The new discovery of Otto’s has added joy to my life. I look foward to more visits of Otto’s Place. Thankful


Cheryl Powell December 27, 2014 at 11:14 pm

I love this place! The food is yummy and the ambiance is cozy and welcoming!!!!


Anne June 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

“Great little cafe!”

We stopped for lunch and ended up coming back the next morning for breakfast! The location is wonderful – off Main St., over the bridge, through the park, and across from the Railroad Depot. Try to get a room upstairs where it is a little more quiet and you have good views of the area. The food was very filling, tasty, and prepared with love. The waitresses and owners were very attentive and took great care of us.


Tina June 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

“Its a gem”

My husband and I visited Galena last weekend and we had dinner at Otto’s place saturday night. We had read the reviews and it was just a bock away from the BnB that we were staying at. We went all over the main street but nothing excited us. At Ottos place the menu was simple and easy to choose from. Very friendly staff and our server was particularly attentive. She actually informed us that the split pea soup has ham in it. Since we are of Indian origin, we do not eat red meat and she she noticed that detail. At most other places we are told about the meat inclusion during or after we have eaten the meal. We had the fish cake entree that we shared and they plated it separately for us or else we would have to eat from a single plate. We finished off with a slice of cheesecake….yummmm. Highly recommended.


Val June 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

“Ottos does it again!”

I am a local and absolutely adore this place! I like to bring my son for little lunch dates, where he can order a local Gray’s Root beer, and I have my favorite chicken salad sandwich. I recently visited for my first breakfast there and the egg tacos were dynamite, as well as the brie and apple quesadilla we started with:) Our adorable waitress was very attentive and right on with our order. I love how it is located in East Galena also. My son and I actually parked downtown and took a lovely scenic stroll over the walking bridge through Grant’s Park to get there once. Such a charismatic place. I would love to own something like it someday!!! 😀


Carol April 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

My husband and I brought a group to Galena and had dinner at Otto’s place with over 20 people. First I must tell you how great it was to even make the reservation. Many places in Galena a small or were not willing to accomadate us the way Otto’s Place was. Wow, they made us feel like they couldn’t wait for us to walk in the door. One of the owners opened the door as we got there and directed us upstairs to our tables. They even had live music, a guitar player that played great background music. Everyone loved the food which was hot and fresh. I had a lot of comments from my group that if they ever came back to Galena this would be a must to come back to. Carol


Heather April 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

My husband and I are from St Louis Mo and were in Galena for the weekend. We wanted to find somewhere to eat breakfast before going home and I think my husband wanted to take Otto’s Place with us! They had such a unique breakfast menu and the staff were so nice and caring!! Banana bread french toast is to die for! Loved the cards on the table of the history of Otto’s place as well! If it weren’t for a 6 hour drive we would eat here every weekend! Heather


Sherwood April 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

This is not a large restaurant, few in Galena are. The building is a wonderfully restored vintage building, with dining both on the main floor and upstairs. Our waitress was great, offering suggestions and providing top service. The supper menu is limited, tonight they offered Beef Stroganoff, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Herb Roast Chicken and Lemon Ginger Mahi Mahi. Our table had all of them and each was rated highly. We also had all the desserts except the pineapple upside down cake, and all were wonderful. An added benefit tonight was gentle live guitar. So great atmosphere, food, service and live music to top it off. Sherwood


James February 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

“Memorable Evening Out!”
Otto’s was recommended to us by several of the local establishments in Galena. The locals LOVE IT and so did WE! The atmosphere is relaxing and we felt very welcomed by the owners John and Dan. The food was wonderful and the portions were perfect. We came back for the Sunday Brunch and again we were very pleased. Allison was our waitress and she was a pleasure and very sweet young lady. I would recommend Otto’s Place to anyone.


Mary February 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Our annual weekend in Galena now includes a must visit to Otto’s for both breakfast & dinner. They seem to do everything well. So if you see your favorite dish on the menu, be prepared to be wowed! Oh and the best part is this amazing food is served by the most delightful staff.


Connie February 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm

“Outstanding One of a Kind Restaurant”

My husband I spent the weekend in Galena which is a 2 hour 40 minute drive from home. I wish it was closer just so we could go back more often for dinner or breakfast. Ottos Place is in a renovated building that was built in 1855. It is quaint but up to date. We went for dinner first after hearing rave reviews from the shop owners on Main Street about the breakfast there. They are only open for dinner Friday and Saturday and the menu changes every week based on what the chef has purchased locally. They post on Facebook and their website the weekend dinner menu a few days before. Our dinner was delicious and we had a lot of fun talking with the staff and the owner. It was so good we went for breakfast the next day and that was just as good. I think we might plan a day trip just to go back for dinner – it was that good!


Mike February 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm

“Outstanding breakfast”
We stopped at Otto’s Place for a Sunday breakfast after seeing the good reviews on trip advisor we were not disappointed . Friendly, prompt service and the food was excellent from the Bloody Mary to the sausage gravy. We’re going to try it for lunch next time we are in town


Harvey August 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I was impressed with your philosophy statement.
You are right on! I come to your restaurant often when I am in Galena
where I have been coming since the mid 1960’s. I started my art and
antiques business in Galena many years ago and am now in
Evanston, IL. Your food and service are a very important contribution
to the quality of products and services offered in Galena, which has
been lacking in recent years. Happy you are doing what you do and
that you have the vision and perspective that our world desperately


David and Anita July 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm

My Wife and I returned after 13 years to Galena where we were engaged. Otto’s was recommended and it was a great place to have breakfast. Everyone was so friendly the food and atmosphere are great. The Owners are there and make everyone feel welcome.


Betsy July 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

My husband and I visited on Sunday morning and had an excellent breakfast. The owner stopped at our table and chatted, the waitress (7/8/12) was attentive and friendly. It was the kind of place you just want to linger for the atmosphere. The portions are healthful and adequate. We would rather have healthful portions of food made with quality ingredients than the mountains of low quality food served many places. We are very happy to have found this place and highly recommend it.


Kantha June 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Breakfast at Otto’s was definitely the highlight of our recent visit to Galena. Dan’s made-from-scratch cheesy biscuits were extraordinarily delicious and I suggested that Otto pack them in bags for those of us who want to take a bit of Otto’s Place back with us. When John sent us home with a gift of those delectable biscuits…it was an invitation to come back again and again. Otto’s Place is THE place to visit when you are in Galena.


Bill & Carole Ann April 23, 2012 at 12:51 am

My wife and I had the pleasure of dinning at Otto’s Place
on Saturday night. We have eaten at restaurants from Ontario,Canada
to Cabo San lucas, Mexico. We must say if we could return to only 1 restaurant we would choose Otto’s. The food the friendliness the
service was the best we have ever experienced. I will drive the 6hrs
from southern Illinois this fall back to Galena and Otto’s.
Thank you so much we loved it.

Bill & Carole Ann

P.S. Megan was the best!!


A & J February 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

My husband and I just visited the Galena area this past weekend (from
WI) and discovered Otto’s…you are our new favorite place to relax.
Looking forward to our next visit for great conversation and what
might be special on the menu!


Ed & Janet Davis December 31, 2011 at 2:14 am

We visited Christmas week with our Daughter and Son-in-law Heather and Andy. Dan & John offer the whole package: Great food, warm friendly atmosphere and great service. But there is a bonus , especially if you’re a Rail Fan. Trains go by about five times a day at about 5 MPH and the Engineers will wave at you. Fun for the adults and a thrill for the kids. And its very quite and the byuliding doesn’t shake.

Being located across from the Galena Rail station and sitting right next to the tracks, Otto’s building must have played an important roll in the railroad history of Galena. If some of the wall space were to be dedicated to some of this rich history, it would probably spark a lot interest. I don’t know how long the railroad has been there but do you suppose Lincoln and Grant road the train to Galena and then checked into the DeSoto House? They may have passed right by the spot where Otto’s Place now stands. If you like history and the feel of a historic building to go with some of the best food in Galena; this is th place for you. Great job guys. we’ll be back.


Andy L December 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

New little spot my friends and I found after snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain. Saw the reviews for breakfast and was a little worried about dinner since that was what we were going for. As soon as we got in, one of the owners greeted us and asked us where we would like to be seated and was very hospitable. We chose a table close to the windows to avoid the draft (sounds like we should move away but the way the door opened, it was actually the better choice. We would’ve gone upstairs but it was full.

Place is very new so it is very orderly and well kept. Very clean, including the bathrooms. We loved the wood floors and basically all wood interior. Very warm atmosphere.

So we are now being taken care of by a very friendly waitress. She hands us a wine menu and the dinner menu. The dinner menu was very simple and to the point with no clutter. The dinner menu had about 4 of each (appetizers, main dish, and homemade dessert). We all go something different (there were 4 of us) and it was all delicious! Portions are just right so you are full but feel happy and not feeling immobile. Food came quickly and hot.

The folks at Otto’s were very friendly and accommodating. Check this place out!


Pam & Tom December 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Otto’s Place is one of the best restaurants in town. Its philosophy is inspiring and the food is delicious. I’m impressed with the use of local food supplies and the freshness and quality of the menu.
The building is beautifully done and the staff is great. Please, stop by and experience a delightful time, at Otto’s Place.


Lynn G December 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

We have lived in Galena, IL all our live, and eaten in many great restaurants here. Otto’s Place has quickly become one of our favorites! The restaurant itself is located on Galena’s East side along the Galena River, and the view of this beautiful historic city can be seen from Otto’s. One can choose to eat upstairs in the beautiful lounge-like area, or downstairs where there is more traditional nice table and chairs seating, glossy hardwood floors and beautiful lighting. And the food: it’s simply delicious!! Very fresh, much use of local, specialized ingredients, and cooked and served beautifully. Even what you would consider ordinary food choices becomes extraordinary when cooked by Dan, Chef and Co-Owner. John, the other Co-Owner, mingles through the restaurant to make sure each and every diner is taken care of. Food favorite? I simply couldn’t tell you. We’ve eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner at Otto’s and I’ve tried so many things on the menu and they are all wonderful. Great place to take friends to!


Randall November 22, 2011 at 3:34 am

John and Dan: We stopped by for lunch Saturday, loved the butternut
squash soup, hummus/eggplant flat bread, Krusovice beer (!) and
wonderfully done second floor area so much we returned for dinner and
Otto’s is now on our radar for return with friends and relatives. You
went above and beyond with info on the Malbec I had and the Dumbarton
bleu mashed potatoes were first rate. We’ll be back
Colleen and Randy–Riverside IL(and GTA)


Charlie August 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

What a great place! The food was wonderful… John, that was a very special touch to MAKE the chocolate milk for the kids! I’ve never seen that done in a restaurant. I will remember that.
Though we live very far away, we will stop in any time we come through Northern Illinois!
Thank you for a lovely breakfast (8/21/11).


Maureen August 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

5 of us went to Otto’s for lunch. It was fantastic! Food was wonderful, our waitress Alexis was a darling and John, one of the owners, was as friendly as could be! I had the roasted veggie sandwich with a half portion of spinach salad. Great! We went back the next day and tried the banana bread french toast. Out of this world!! The turkey/black bean chili was outstanding. A definite choice if you are looking for something different than the usual hamburger. These owners use only produce from local farmers. Another good reason to support this new restaurant. Way to go John and Dan!!


TBALL August 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Great food! Loved the atmosphere! Especially like the concept of
supporting the local organic farmers. John was delightful to visit


Pat August 5, 2011 at 9:49 pm

My husband and I were part of a group that stopped in for dinner on Friday evening, July 22. We were visiting from the Philadelphia area. We were so pleased with the food, service and all around good vibes from your restaurant. The food and drinks were excellent (especially the mango vodka smoothie) and your easy-going, friendly manner made us feel relaxed and welcome.

May you always do well. Hopefully, we’ll get back to Otto’s.


Alex July 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

This place is really a nifty place to visit.

I’m one of those people, as my wife is also, who enjoy reading the little stories on the menus that give you a glimpse into the local history of a restaurant. It enhances the experience, both in taste and in ambience.

Otto was a man who lived upstairs in this track-side building and had the desire to start a restaurant downstairs in 1899. (I believe it was the year it was built, as well.) Unfortunately, though the new eatery was advertised in the local newspaper, Otto’s vision fell through. Out of respect for Otto’s dream, the current owners named the restaurant after him.

In addition to the history, the owners live by a philosophy based on Bob Perks’s story, “I wish you Enough”. Essentially it means that, in your experience at the restaurant (and in life), the owners hope that you are provided with enough to still appreciate and enjoy the moment, whatever it may be. So cool!

As for the food, the Ham & Cheddar on a Pretzel Roll is quite tasty, and the Portobella Cheese Steak is vegetarian-ly scrumptious. The cheese on the sandwich is made in a local factory, and their soft drinks are from Gray’s brewery in Wisconsin. They also serve coffee, wine and desserts.

To boot, it’s located on the train tracks right before you go over the bridge (westbound); just take a right onto Park Avenue and a left on the next street. It’s the cool-looking building on the right.

Bring your friends, loved ones, or just a book, this is an experience that is worth a look.

“I wish you Enough…”


Amber July 2, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Dear John and Dan,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and my very happy belly for the
lovely Thursday morning. I have been talking up a storm about you all
around town here and hope that some of my cohorts have a chance to
come see you as well. If the universe smiles upon me, I will plan to
see you this coming Thursday for coffee and lunch. I have included the
link to my blog if you would like to see what the rest of my
delightful morning was like.

I look forward to another tasty meal as well as more stimulating
Thanks again,


MB June 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Okay, so restaurants located in historic buildings are usually dark, poorly lit, and depend on some aspect of history for their allure. Not so with Otto’s Place! True, it’s in an historic building, and it’s across the street from an historic train station, but any view out through its many windows yields awesome vistas of historic Galena. Here is a place that is off the beaten path, yet in the middle of things. Just across the river from Main Street, Otto’s Place is like a sentry watching over the hustle and bustle of what was once THE metropolis in the Midwest, much larger than even Chicago! But wait, this is a restaurant, not just a park bench, and a very fine restaurant it is. The menu is simple, reasonably priced, but every item on it is well thought out. Many of the ingredients are locally produced, so you know they’re fresh. Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, there’s enough choice to satisfy, and enough intrigue for the taste buds to make one want to come again. If you want a place to relax for a bit, enjoy some outstanding dishes, and avoid the crushing crowds, this is the place! Enjoy.


Janelle June 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

My daughter and I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast together at Otto’s Place. Her comment, “Mom, no offense, but this is the BEST French toast I’ve ever had!” She had the cinnamon swirl French Toast, I enjoyed the banana bread French toast. A really nice treat we really enjoyed. A very fun, cozy place to just kick back and relax. The staff and owners add to the character and charm–and make this a place you won’t want to miss. Two thumbs up!


Mary S June 29, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Since the day Otto’s opened, the place has been a hit. John and Dan , the owners, are clearly focused on a good dining experience and making it a place to feel welcome and to bring your friends.
Love the salads, sandwiches, breakfast..great beer and wine list…put it on your list of good dining in Galena.


Lois B June 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Otto’s Place is GREAT!!
by Lois Billings (1 review)
June 27, 2011
We’ve been to Otto’s Place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and wine, and we had great food, great service, a lovely location, and terrific atmosphere. The owners, John and Dan, have put together a wonderful place where people feel welcomed, comfortable and taken care of. While we were there one rainy day, John saw a customer being let out of a car at the curb and he ran out with an umbrella and escorted her inside. Now that is customer service!! We highly recommend Otto’s Place. You will LOVE it!


Debbie L June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm


What a gorgeous building. The upstairs “sofa area” is a perfect place to catch up with friends, and just relax. The staff is very attentive, extremely friendly and efficient without being a bother. We were well taken care of, no empty coffee cups or water glasses.

We had a wonderful breakfast. The Country Breakfast was delicious, the biscuits were light and fluffy, and the sausage gravy was the best I’ve had in ages!! The Banana Bread French Toast was HEAVEN on a plate! Try it without the syrup, awesome!!!!!

Otto’s is a place that makes you feel like you’re home, great food and great people.


Christine Bochniak May 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm

After working at the Railway Cafe from the time it was opened, the building that is now Otto’s Place has had a special place in my heart. There have been many wonderful memories there, especially since it is located basically in my parents backyard. When I walked into Otto’s Place for the first time last weekend I was so happy to see that it still had its’ cozy atmosphere and looks so beautiful. It is a job well done and I cannot wait to come in there this weekend to enjoy my first meal!


Frank May 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Had breakfast here this morning! What a great addition to the Galena neighborhood. Great food, good prices, friendly people; What more could one ask for in the way of a restaurant? Oh, did I forget to mention that the building has been totally remodeled and the decor is super!


Lisa May 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Thanks for the lovely dinner, the restaurant looks beautiful and it was a great place to spend a few hours with good friends.
PS that Bleu Cheese is really something special, especially topped with the candied walnuts.


Jim May 23, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Well, the six of us had a great time tonight. Food, folks & fun… all
fabulous. Anna’s super. Otto’s is a wonderful addition to what you
already know is a one of a kind community. Yup, we’ll be back !
P.S. Many thanks for putting us upstairs !!
P.P.S. Also thanks to Dan for slavin’ away in the kitchen.


Char April 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm


My mother & I had lunch at your establishment the other day and I must
say that it was very enjoyable and beautiful scenery looking out over
the Mississippi. Thank You so much for the enjoyable meal our waitress Alexis was so full of life and very good at what she does thanks
again, hope you are around for a long time.


Jennifer Thew April 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Andy and I will definitely be making a trip to come check out your new restaurant! I’m excited for the two of you and I know the food and hospitality will be great! Good luck!

Jennifer Thew


Tiesha Taylor-Junius March 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Otto’s place will be a success because you two are great businessmen, hospitable, great entertainers and you have the passion to make it so wonderful. Congratulations on your new adventure. We are so excited for you to open!


Dave anderson March 16, 2011 at 2:25 am

Welcome to the neighborhood!
We love what you are doing to that wonderful building just down the street from us. We can’t wait for you to open. We hope to be there opening day.
Congratulations to both of you.
Dave and Bernadine Anderson, Stillman Inn


Dave anderson March 16, 2011 at 2:20 am

Welcome to the neighborhood!
We have always liked the great character of your building.
We can’t wait to see the inside when you open.
The website interior pictures look wonderful.
See you soon,
Dave and Bernadine Anderson


Lynne Schaefer March 2, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Congratulations!! The place is looking awesome! Though I live far away from Galena, the appeal is such that I would make the drive to visit! Love the name!


admin March 3, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Thanks Lynn,

Its not a bad drive from the Chicago area, and the view is great along the way.


Alex Gasparro March 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm

OMG!!! This place looks amazing I will be coming here all the time..Can’t wait for it to be open! It looks so great!!!!!!!!


Cathy Sereno-Blasen March 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Congrats and best of wishes for a successful business. If I am ever in Galena, I will be sure to stop in. I have never been there, maybe one of these days! Again best of luck to you both!!!!!!


T.J. Meehan February 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm

The anticipation is killing us! Only one more month and we’ll be there. The photos look like it’s gonna be a beutiful, relaxing spot. See ya soon.


Jack Reed February 28, 2011 at 2:47 am

John, Dan and Otto-

What a great union. Love the idea, Love the name, Love the atmosphere, LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! Can’t wait to take the trip, bring some friends, make some friends and enjoy the ride! Make sure you also take the time to enjoy your journey, sounds like you are off to a great start! BEST of wishes on your adventure.


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