Amish Country Store & Restaurant: Side business pays off for candle maker
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
3/28/13 at 7:45 AM
MUSKOGEE - When Pam Villines' candle-making business began to flicker, she started considering ways to expand into other areas.
"When I started my candle store 12 years ago, nobody was doing candles around here, and then it got saturated," Villines said. "A few years ago I was driving around Chouteau and saw an Amish bakery and wondered if Amish items would go over here."
At first, Villines added Amish jellies and jams to augment her candle business, located on U.S. 69 on the north side of Muskogee.
"Then I started serving sandwiches, and eventually the candle part got smaller and the Amish items got larger," Villines said. "I never figured to have a full-blown restaurant, but I do."
Today, Amish Country Store & Restaurant is about half restaurant and half food and gift store. Almost all of the food items, including some used in the restaurant, come from Amish providers.
Villines said four Amish women make the breads, pies, candy and cookies. Her daughter, Shelly Leeds, makes the fudge, and a friend makes the fried pies.
"A friend whose husband passed away from cancer needed something to do to make money, and I got this idea about fried pies," Villines said. "Nobody wants to make fried pies because they are so labor intensive, but my friend embraced it and has made hundreds of pies for the restaurant."
We found Amish Country Store & Restaurant by accident. We were in Muskogee, needed lunch and had seen the storefront on the highway a few miles after exiting the Muskogee Turnpike.
The kitchen was out of Momma Yoder's Meatloaf, our first choice, so we settled for a roast beef dinner ($8.99) and an open-face roast turkey sandwich ($8.99).
The mound of shredded roast beef was tender and tasty, and a rich brown gravy over the sliced turkey gave the sandwich a big flavor.
Our dinners came with complimentary dinner rolls - big, fluffy guys served with real butter - and a choice of two sides.
I loved the Amish casserole that featured homemade noodles cooked with peas, corn and cheese, and not far behind were buttery corn and green beans cooked with bacon and onion.
We picked up flavors of salt and garlic in a tangy ranch dressing that topped a standard dinner salad.
A big, flaky cherry fried pie ($2.85) and blackberry cobbler ($3.50) were perfect closers.
Squeeze bottles of muscadine jelly to use with the dinner rolls and other bread items were on the tables, which were covered in red-and-white checked vinyl cloths.
Villines said she hired a homeless man in Tulsa to remodel the building with rough woods and corrugated metal.
"He stayed here and has found work around Muskogee," Villines said.
Walls are decorated with mounted deer heads, John Wayne photos, antiques and Life and Saturday Evening Post magazine covers.
The gift shop is full of Amish food items. We took home some wonderful, soft pecan brittle.
Villines, who has a degree in psychology, said she gave up a career in that field after her candle business took off.
"You never know how things will end up," she said. "But I'm proud I was able to take on a business and make something of it."
The restaurant will stay open until 8 p.m. Valentine's Day.
STORE & RESTAURANT
2410 N. 32nd St., U.S. 69, Muskogee
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Original Print Headline: Side of success
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
A ham dinner is served with Amish casserole and green beans at the Amish Country Store & Restaurant in Muskogee. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Pam Villines turned her candle-making business into the Amish Country Store & Restaurant in Muskogee. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World