Shopping for simpler pleasures

Not too long ago, the world was smaller. Perhaps you knew which farm produced the cheese and meat on your table. At the very least, you had a milkman who delivered fresh milk in glass bottles to your door each morning. People, not machines, put heart, respect and talent into these traditional jobs. Maybe America will get back to that time again.

Until then, there’s always The Amish Barn Diner and Country Store.

When Rodney and Linda Lewis toured Amish country for their 25th wedding anniversary, they never thought the trip would inspire a business. But as tidy farms and roadside shops rolled past their car, they grew more and more enchanted.

“My dad [Rodney] fell in love with the culture, the simple way of life, the quality of all their products from food to furniture,” said Leigh Lewis-Korn, store manager.

That was 9 years ago.  

“My dad took me through Amish Country in Ohio and Pennsylvania searching for Amish products to bring back to our area,” Leigh said. Those initial forays connected them to with farmers and artists, butchers and woodworkers. The family brought back a truckload of goods and eventually opened a store— The Amish Barn.

"The atmosphere. It’s nostalgic. We carry a lot of products from the past, which which remind our customers of their childhood days.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Rodney still makes weekly trips from his native West Virginia during peak seasons. That’s because driving hundreds of miles to Lancaster and Holmes County is worth it. Crimson tomatoes on the vine, farm-raised pork, crisp lettuce, carved furniture… the Lewis family knows there’s nothing like it.

Visit the store in Beckley, and you’ll soon become a devotee as well. For one thing, there’s the furniture. Unlike today’s mass-produced pieces, Amish craftsmanship bears marks from the human hands that carved it. The Lewis family sells all kinds: outdoor chairs so new the blonde wood reveals every whorl, sturdy hardwood tables, picture swings with sweet designs and themes, and more.

Drive up, and you’ll see Amish furniture arranged neatly around a rust-red barn. It’s a comfortable place that brings to mind lazy summer afternoons. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see customers munching a warm cookie as they sit leisurely on a bench. Here, there’s no hurry.

Ask Lewis-Korn what brings people back again and again, and she has a ready answer.

“The atmosphere. It’s nostalgic,” she said. “We carry a lot of products from the past— like Mallo Cups and footlong hot dogs— in our diner, which remind our customers of their childhood days.”

Capturing those memories and serving them on a plate is what sets The Amish Barn apart. Everything is right from the farm.

“We purchase everything we can in-state, and our diner supplies come from a West Virginia family-owned company,” Leigh said.  “But we reach out to the Amish for their high-quality meats and cheeses.”

It’s a magical combination that entrances visitors from miles around. The Amish Barn’s menu is all about comfort food, with flavor that pops with each mouthful.

Amish Barn hot dog“Our best sellers are the jumbo pulled pork BBQ sandwiches,” Leigh said, listing fan favorites. “The BBQ is a Amish Recipe, and we sell over 2,000 lbs a year.”

But the deli hot dogs aren’t too far behind.

“They’re amazing,” Leigh said. “That’s because we use English toasted buns, which really makes for an excellent hot dog! For our own Deputy Dog—  named because ‘it is so delicious it should be illegal’— we joined our delicious regular hot dog and topped it with Amish pulled pork BBQ and cheese.”

Top off your order with Cajun turkey, off-the-bone ham, green-onion cheese and bacon cheese. Add on traditional side dishes like creamy macaroni salad, coleslaw, potato salad and chips.

Everything tastes delicious because the Lewis family respects food, pure and simple. They don’t cheat on ingredients, and they go the extra mile— literally— for what matters.

After lunch, wander The Amish Barn’s aisles. You’ll find Appalachian products like aromatic jars of light and dark honey, swirled bars of handmade soap and candy from Sweeteez, a Beckley business.

You’ll also find unexpected items like cute cake pans shaped like elephants, dancing bears, princesses and stars. It’ll make you think of  childhood, when simple pleasures like desserts brought so much happiness. The Lewises also stock polka-dot party plates, striped bunting and colorful paper napkins for mix-and-match spontaneity.

Go ahead— have that family party or dinner. The Amish Barn proves we can bring back treasured moments. Just get back to basics.