The Story of The Heidelberg
The original owners and builders, Harold and Terry Link, were both born in Heidelberg, Germany, and had moved to the United States in the West Palm Beach, Florida area. They were married in 1976 and selected North Georgia, including Atlanta and Helen, as their honeymoon destination. While in Helen, Terry decided to see what German attire some of the shops had to offer. Harold had a German band that played in the German American club in West Palm Beach, and the female band members needed some additional Dirndls.
During the visit to Helen, Terry decided the town was lacking a satisfactory German Restaurant. To fulfill that need, the couple relocated to the area and purchased the property on which The Heidelberg building currently sits. They were instrumental in designing the original building and restaurant, which initially opened as The Forge on July 4, 1977. The business, with its unique structural design and decor, showcased both Harold’s interest in blacksmithing and his and Terry’s German heritage. At the time, the menu offered both traditional German and American fare. In 1980, the Links decided to remove many of the non-German aspects of the business. That year, they renamed the restaurant “Old Heidelberg,” making it a full-time German restaurant. The exterior was repainted in blue and white, as it remains today. In the late 1980s, they expanded the building, adding a dedicated pub, a second dining room, and a large outdoor terrace. The terrace was later enclosed and is now the current-day Bierhimmel Music Hall.
The Links sold Old Heidelberg in 1997 and now live in Dawsonville, but remain involved in and around Helen.
After several ownership changes through the years, the current owners purchased the restaurant in 2013. They are dedicated to preserving one of Helen’s most famous buildings and businesses. In 2018, the name was changed to “The Heidelberg.” The owners and management wanted to make the business their own, but at the same time honor the Link family and their heritage, as well as their friends and employees that made building and restaurant a place treasured by many.