We recently heard about an Amish family serving home dinners in northeastern Indiana. But what about Lancaster County, the most popular Amish tourism destination?
The Lititz Record Express looks at one such dining business, to be run on the farm of Samuel and Ruth Lapp:
The farm home has a walk-in basement with a large kitchen, dining area, and handicap accessible restroom facilities. With the help of daughters Elizabeth, Rosanna, and Laura, Ruth will begin to prepare for a 5 p.m. dinner at noon. She usually follows a traditional family menu and recipes but works, as needed, with guests who have special dietary needs. Although her meal is not entirely gluten free, there are many course in the meal that are.
For her guests, Ruth is set to prepare two meats —usually pot roast with gravy, plus baked chicken, or chicken pot pie. Mashed potatoes and home-made noodles provide the starch. The accompanying vegetables will be from Ruth’s garden. Home baked bread is served with fruit preserves made from the farm harvest. In the spring, Ruth will make a special strawberry rhubarb drink she is famous for.
Deserts include cakes, pies, and ice cream, and no one will leave hungry.
“The meal is way more than I would cook for my family,” she said with a smile, “but Lancaster County tradition says you never leave the table hungry, and the meal will live up to that adage.”
The article also explains why Amish home eateries have traditionally operated without a lot of fanfare and promotion:
For years, Amish families hosted small groups to lunches or dinners preparing the same foods they cook for their large families. It was a practice that flew under the radar as the meals were in private homes, not restaurants, and not licensed by the state, county, or town. Mostly, Amish neighbors were supportive and English neighbors turned their heads.
The experience, from all accounts, was a pleasant one and benefited all. Tourist groups, many from B&Bs, or reunions of local families celebrating a special event, enjoyed the hearty and simple fare prepared by their hosts. And, for the Amish family, it was a source of income to supplement the farm operation and to help pay off the mortgage for expensive land.
In recent years, townships who have learned about these in-home Amish dinners — sometimes because local restaurants resented the competition or a neighbor complained — have stepped in and asked the families to stop or to comply with township ordinances, undergo inspections and receive certification.
Accordingly, author Art Petrosemolo says he “spoke to a number of Amish families, some of whom have hosted dinners (getting confirmation is not easy) and wanted to stay under the radar.”
The Lapps are clearly above the radar here. They will be certified by the township and able to host up to 45 people, and have a competitive price of $18 per eater. It’s unclear exactly when they’ll open for business, but I’d assume it must be soon, if they’re getting coverage now.
Able to promote itself openly, and with tour company partnerships, I’d expect this is going to be a successful business. Assuming of course, that the food is good – which is a pretty safe bet.