The Good ‘N Plenty restaurant was one of the best-known Lancaster County eateries, serving PA Dutch style meals for over 50 years, until the pandemic-related downturn put them out of business. Now, an Amish group has organized to purchase the property and make it into a health clinic catering to the area’s Plain community. Via Lancaster Online:

A group organized by members of the Old Order Amish Church has bought the former Good N Plenty restaurant property near Smoketown for a new health care facility that would cater to Amish church members.

Well Spring Care Inc. paid $2.9 million last week for the 8.5-acre property along Route 896 just north of Route 30 where Good N Plenty closed in December after serving traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food to visitors for more than a half-century.

A first of its kind for Lancaster County, Well Spring Care will offer birth care, chronic care and urgent care with the intention of being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, according to a message on a Well Spring Care phone information line announcing the purchase.

“This clinic will be for the Plain community, supported by the community but run by professional doctors and nurses,” said the phone message.

A representative for Well Spring Care did not return a message seeking more information about the planned clinic, but a flyer distributed by Well Spring Care describes the history of the idea and vision of creating “a clinic for the church, by the church.”

Steve Nolt of the Young Center describes this as something new for the Amish:

While members of the Amish church are closely involved with some local medical practices, a 24-hour health clinic financed and managed by members of the church would be new for Lancaster County, said Steve Nolt, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.

“There has been involvement, locally, on the part of some Old Order folks in directing, at least in part, healthcare services,” said Nolt. “But the new endeavor is of a very different scale.”

He also suggests that with the size of this community, and the increasing sophistication driven by decades of entrepreneurial involvement by the Amish, a somewhat more bureaucratic approach is not surprising.

In general, Amish churches tend to be more loosely and informally organized when it comes to things like handling church financial needs. However in larger communities there are more formal aid plans:

With only a few exceptions, Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite church members don’t have commercial medical insurance or participate in public-sector insurances such as Medicare, Nolt said. Instead, church members cover their own medical costs or get help from other church members to cover costs.

Old Order Amish Hospital Aid is a somewhat formalized cost-sharing arrangement in which church members make monthly payments in exchange for help with medical bills. While it is structured like a group insurance plan, Nolt says it is not contractual or bureaucratic like actual insurance.

Nevertheless, Nolt says the development of office space for its medical mutual aid arrangement at the same time that an effort is being launched to create a health clinic shows a new willingness for Amish church members to set up and run their own community institutions.

It sounds like the Lapp family, which have owned Good N Plenty ,are supportive of the new venture as well, and have offered a $500,000 loan in assistance. Nice to see this effort here in the community. Steve Nolt describes this as new for Lancaster County and I’m not sure if anything like this exists anywhere else for that matter. But perhaps more efforts like this will emerge in other larger communities. Interestingly, this is just down the road from another fairly recent “Amish institution”, the Bank of Bird-in-Hand.

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