I often get questions from readers wanting to have a “deeper experience” when they visit the Amish – something more than a buggy ride or buying canned goods at a roadside stand.
For instance, there are a few Amish lodging places though they are not common. There are also families who will host you in their homes for a meal.
Often you need to set this up in advance, come with a group, and you may find they fly a bit under the radar, so to speak.
Nolt’s Family Dinner Haus in the Allen County, Indiana community (Grabill) is a bit different. They don’t require reservations. You can simply walk in on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 til 8pm.
The business is run by Barbara and David Nolt. The Nolts’ story is an interesting one.
To my knowledge this is the only Nolt household in the Allen County community (you’ll rather see a lot of old Swiss Amish names, like Schwartz, Lengacher and Raber).
There’s a reason why the Nolt name is rare here:
Barbara and her family are members of the Old Order Amish. She and her husband, David, have been married since 1979. The story of how they met and how Nolt’s Family Dinner Haus came to be is one for the romance books.
Barbara was 32 years old and the mother of three children when her husband, age 34, died of a heart attack.
This was in the late 1970s. According to daughter Naomi Lengacher, 6 years old at the time, her mother didn’t believe she would ever marry again. “There were only two Amish churches in the area then,” said Lengacher. She added that there are now 30 Amish churches in the area around Grabill.
Two years after becoming a widow, Barbara met David Nolt. The Decatur resident was not Amish but was hired by the Amish to drive them places because their religion forbids owning vehicles. They also are not allowed to have their photos taken.
Barbara and David fell in love. David chose to join the Amish culture after the couple decided to marry. “He was kind to my children, and God told me he was OK,” said Barbara.
Allen County is not really a tourist-oriented settlement, especially compared to other places like the Shipshewana area or Nappanee.
But if you’re near Fort Wayne, or looking for an alternative to “Dutch Style” mass eateries, you might try stopping in for a meal.
The place seats 160, so it’s not like you’re going to be sitting with an Amish family at their kitchen table. But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t tasty.
Have you ever had a meal at an Amish home or establishment?
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I have eaten at a restaurant in Ohio Amish country but I think it was only Amish style not Amish owned. I wish the Amish would start and run some bed and breakfast homes. I would love to experience their day to day rhythm.
Those pies look delicious.
Do you remember which one Debbie? Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen at Mount Hope is one of the best-known in the Holmes County area.
Dinner With The Amish
It’s conincidental that the subject of meals at or with Amish should come up today…because it was just last Wednesday that my wife and I, along with a friend were invited to dinner with Amish friends of ours. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon; we have had many meals with this Amish family. And, they’ve had several with us…yes, the whole family at our house – all nine of them.
What a sumptuous meal it was: pizza (homemade by our hostess), noodle casserole, two kinds of salad. And, for dessert four different kinds of pie.
What a time we had: singing, story telling, listening to “harp” music. We not only have meals at each other’s houses, we even visit restaurants with our adult friends. What a good feeling it is to have such great friends from a totally different culture than the “English” one in which we exist.
Sounds like a wonderful evening Ken. Any meal that includes casserole and pie of just about any sort is going to win in my book.
Just curious, would that be an actual harp or more like a jaw harp? 🙂
Jaw Harp LOL
I’ve never heard anyone refer to a Harmonica as a jaw harp before. I used to have a Harmonica when I was an Amish kid. That was back in the 1960’s. I grew up in the Ashland, Ohio community. I lived on a farm about a mile north of Shenandoah. I left the Amish in 1969. My grandfather used to own Keim lumber company in Mt. Hope, Ohio.
I have family members that are still Amish, but that lifestyle just wasn’t for me. If I’m not mistaken, One of my nephews, which I have a lot of, runs an electric store in Berlin, Ohio. It’s called Keim Electric. I live in Texas now with my son and his family.
Hi John, I think we’re talking about two different things (I am no expert on either instrument, just remembered the term when Ken mentioned “harp”). I agree it is a funny name 🙂
Nice to hear from a Keim with Holmes County roots, do you get back to visit much?
The Jew’s harp, also known as the jaw harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp or juice harp, is a lamellophone instrument, which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer’s mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. Each instrument produces one pitch only, with its multiples (overtones), though different sized instruments provide different pitches. There is no standard pitch.
There's haro and there's harps
Ive often heard of harmonicas called harps…and often called mouth harps .. so yes… Pretty common talk.
Harmonicas are known by many different names: harp, mouth organ, wheezebox, Mississippi Saxophone. Being originally from Chicago, I chose harp. I guess most of the Amish call them harmonicas though. Sorry to confuse anyone.
Yes, a group from our church (30 some) went to eat at an Amish family’s home outside of Belleville, PA. The Mr. & Mrs. and their teens served us family style and one of the boys made hand churned ice cream. There was room at the table for all us to sit inside their lovely home. A wonderful evening, but I believe this is by word of mouth and reservations only.
Neat! Carolyn do you remember which Amish group this was – which color buggy you might have seen there?
Although I have not eaten at this restaurant, I have heard wonderful things about it. Even friends who don’t usually go to Grabill are talking about it. It really MUST move to the top of my TO DO LIST.
I never ate there myself, though I think I knocked on the family’s door while selling books in this community about 10 years ago. Can’t remember if anyone answered 🙂 But good to have it back on the radar if/when I’m in Grabill area again. If you go, let us know how it goes!
I ate my lunch and dinner with an Amish family most days, during the time of my childhood when they were babysitting me. Very different, very nice. Decades later, I still haven’t had cottage cheese as good as theirs, and only one kind of ice cream that compares.
There’s a town near where I live now that has a lot of Mennonite (old and new order) and a few Amish, and there was a diner that was owned and operated by one of these groups. I was only an adolescent at the time, if that, so I don’t really remember more specific. I remember they had a gift shop upstairs. It was pretty neat, and I’m sad it didn’t last.
Must have been a nice experience to have been watched by Amish babysitters as a child, and not just for the food. Thanks for sharing J.M.
In Lancaster, PA Katy’s Kitchen is a nice small Amish restaurant located a few miles south on Route 30 (Philadelphia Pike). It is south of Rt. 30 on Route 896 heading to Strasburg, PA. Restaurant is on the right just after a small bridge. My last visit, they had a white board with notes. One note said “Prayer is the best wireless connection”
I have an Amish friend that does meals for visitors and tourists.
I’ve been to Katy’s Restaurant and the food was delicious. The little Amish girls cleaning tables were so cute!
Staying with the Amish
There are even some very few Amish families with whom you can stay for one to three nights, for only a small fee and even for a bit longer, if you are lucky and they invite you to do so.
I understand Pennsylvania Dutch quite well and speak it to some extend, even though I do not have an Amish or Mennonite background. I’m also quite familiar with Amish culture and lifestyle through very intense studies.
Last year I stayed for a week with a Michigan Amish family, a weekend with a New Order Amish family in Ohio and another week with a very Amish like Para-Amish group in Kentucky, that has more restrictions on technology than the strictest Old Order Amish, that is no combustion engines at all, only steam engines.
They were all very friendly and helpful and I did not feel odd or as an outsider there. My mother tongue is German and my Christian faith is heavily influenced by conservative Anabaptism.
For a long time I thought it would be impossible to do what I did, but one day I discovered a hospitality directory that made all this possible. I won’t tell which one it was, because these few Amish families for sure do not want to be flooded with visitors.
What I want so say here is that it is possible to stay with Amish families for some time even if you are an outsider.
You just have to learn an enormous amount of knowledge about them (language would be very helpful too) and you must be at least for some time be very adaptable.
I will try to do this again, but the Amish, Old Order Mennonite, Hutterite and Para-Amish groups I plan to visit are not the most conservative ones, but rather “odd” or unusual groups.
One of these unusual, more or or less well known groups, that was mentioned here several times, is the Amish congregation at Unity, Maine, but there are quite a few others.
It is not easy the discover and locate them, but if one tries hard, it is possible!
Dinner in an Amish Home
I’ve had dinner in an Amish home twice in the Arthur, Il area. Both times were with my church women’s group and our husbands. Arrangements were made by phone through an outdoor phone set up where one left a message and someone returned the call. The Amish women serving us were very reserved and didn’t interact with us very much. I think neighboring women helped the main hostess Once when we were on a bus trip to the Amish area of Ohio. the group of us ate in an Amish home. The hostess was much more outgoing than the Illinois ones. After eating, the three sons of the family sang several songs for us. They weren’t extremely talented, but very enjoyable. All three experiences were good.
Recommendation for lunch in a Amish home
I’m looking to bring a group of seniors to Arthur for a day trip, any recommendations on a family to contact.
Amish meals coming to Lititz, PA
I recently saw a newspaper article out of Lancaster County about an Amish couple that were planning to soon serve meals from their home. That’s only an hour from here – I’m definitely keeping my eyes open for more news of their venture. Meanwhile, we have an Amish market five minutes from my house in Airville, just across the river from Lancaster. Tonight for supper, we had a beef pie and chow chow from there- yum!
When are you doing these comments again?
I just noticed the date on these are 2017 ?? Two yrs. old…..
When are you going to start doing these comments again? I always enjoyed them . Love hearing about the Amish and how they live, love their recipes….I think you used to occasionally used to print a recipe now & then…..
I loved when either you or one of your followers could ask a question and you would either answer or post it for us to ask a question, as we sure did not have the answer to any of the Amish ones….
I see the Amish a lot around here, going to Wal Mart, and they have some stores, like a General Store really close to us, my Daughter & I go a lot, you can find most anything you want…especially spices & Oatmeal, Grits, Corn Meal, Flour and all the basics you need…
They have all kind of Jams, Jellies, etc….some I never heard of…I bought one for my Son when he can in for a visit think it a jalapeño jam that he loved, bought a tomato jam that was good….and still have one I haven’t opened yet, Seedless Black Raspberry Jam….looking forward to eating it with home made biscuits when he visits again….
They have all kind of candies, you can find some of the ones we used to eat growing up…..they have fresh bread there, they also make fresh sandwiches there and they sell all kind of lunch meats, etc…
Then in the attached bldg. they sell all kind of things for the home, they make, they have swings, chairs, Sheds, Picnic tables, Gazebo’s all outside in the Summer….you name it and it’s pretty much there or I think they will make anything personally for you too…..
You may have been to this store…..I think Kevin has…..both of these are really great we love to go there, and in the summer they have garden fresh tomatoes, etc…..all the veggies you like…..we always go there for their green beans, etc……
Then down the road about a mile is a great Bakery that belongs to the Brother that owns this store….keeping it in the family….Great…..and they have all kind of fresh bakery items they bake & sell, you can buy Pizza, Subs, etc there too and they do make fresh sandwiches too…..
Check it out….you will love it