This Amish Family Will Feed You, Too

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.

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    1. Judy Pasqualone

      What is their contact site or info...

      How would I contact them for info when they open? Will their be a website or how would I get address and make a reservation? Would love to try this. I’m only about 1 1/2 hrs from Lancaster.

      1. Hi Judy, all the details I could give you are at the linked article (this is the first I’ve heard of this business as it’s still upcoming), but if I hear more I’ll post it here.

        Did not see anything about a website but there is a contact for a tour company that is going to be helping them get customers: “The Lapp family will do modest advertising for the in-home dinners and will rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations from guests, and help from tour guides or companies like Amish Neighbor Tours in Strasburg, run by Jeff and Ritz Heft. Ruth will respond to In-Home reservation inquiries left on her message phone, 610-593-1206 x0, in a timely fashion.”

    2. Judy Pasqualone

      Correction…will “there” be a website…etc.

    3. Alice Mary

      My downfall!

      I’ve had lunch in a couple of Amish homes + loved every bite…probably TOO much! As a diabetic I’m better off living as I do a few hours’ drive from Amish territory. If not, the baked goods especially would cause my A1C to skyrocket! I’ll admit to a lack of self control when it comes to satisfying my tastebuds + appetite. Can’t help but wonder if there are Amish tours where instead of eating, you get to work off calories by doing manual labor like the Amish do?

      I hope some of those under the radar Amish places can stay that way. I’m sure they offer a more “authentic” experience.

      Alice Mary

    4. Charlotte

      would love to have more info

    5. J.

      I tried it

      While visiting Lancaster county I tried a dinner in an Amish home. It was a strange experience. I can’t say the food was very fresh or good which surprised me. We had the green bean casserole made with canned soup and the mashed potatoes were odd, maybe fake or over mashed or both with a bright yellow butter. The strawberry pie was definitely made with gelatin with an unnatural color, and so did the canned pickled veggies seem odd, and they served us coffee mate, not cream, but they do wear polyester clothes which I find odd so I don’t know why I expected them to be more natural with ingredients, except that they lived on a farm! The stand out was the peanut spread. Yum. So good I can’t believe how unnatural the ingredients are said to be. I don’t know why it was so good, but everything else was a poor attempt at an old Betty Crocker recipe collection. The family was not exactly friendly. They would not “break bread” with us and were somewhat rude, but they charged quite a bit, that’s for sure. Why else invite English “heathens” to the home? They treated us like aliens. Still I suppose it was worthwhile, but I complained to the liaison and I doubt I’d ask him again, which kind of taught me to keep my mouth shut because although in a sense I hated the experience, it was unique in a way. The home was very modern, with fridges and stoves like most homes, and the home was very fancy with very fine cabinetry finished so smoothly I had to wonder how. The girl who hosted the event with her mother sold printed recipe books, obviously prepared on a computer, along with crafts and canned goods. They also had puppies, selling for a very high price. They began to kick us out as I was trying to finish my coffee.

      1. Ashley


        Was it at this place listed above?

    6. Alison

      Excellent experience with Ruth Lapp and family. The food was delicious , we joined in with a group from North Carolina and it was AAAAAMAZING. Can’t wait to come back and visit / highly recommend !