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She left the Amish and started a ghost kitchen

Plus, what's going on around Pa. this weekend.

April 15, 2022
Inside this edition: Special deliveries, your weekend planner, voter prep, the game that broke me, FarmerJawn's new digs, and Pa.'s forever bridge.

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The longest stone arch railroad bridge ever built is in what Pa. borough? 

(We'll have a real stumper in this space each week. You'll find the answer at the bottom, but don't miss all the good stuff in between.) 
Meal prep underway for Kathryn's ghost kitchen. (Courtesy of Kathryn's)

Kathy Fisher grew up Amish in Strasburg and later left the church, in part, to become an entrepreneur. She’s now running a ghost kitchen — a delivery-only food service operation — out of a historic mansion in Mifflintown. (Ghost kitchens, it turns out, are very much alive.)

We talked to Kathy (pictured) about the business, leaving the Plain community, and how it’s shaping her work and her menu all these years later.

Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length. 

PA Local: Hi Kathy. Tell us about your ghost kitchen. 

Fisher: We rent a commercial kitchen in the Annsfield Estate (a popular Juniata Valley wedding venue). We go in one day a week with all of our helpers and whip up all the food. Then we freeze everything so it can be stored until someone’s ready to eat it. That part is fairly unique among ghost kitchens. We’re finding it really caters to working parents. It also makes the food easier for us to transport.

PA Local: How do the orders reach the customers? 

Fisher: We do free deliveries if you’re within five miles of the courthouse in Mifflintown. Otherwise we have five different pickup locations. (...)

We've had a little bit of difficulty in our advertising because people don't know the term "ghost kitchen." We say it's as simple as we don't have a sit-in restaurant and we do the delivery. Basically everything is ordered online.

PA Local: Your menu has a number of Pennsylvania Dutch staples. You grew up in the Plain community. Can you tell us about that part of your life?

Fisher: I grew up in the horse-and-buggy Amish community. Most of my relatives and my parents are still in the Plain community. They’re no longer horse-and-buggy Amish. When I was about five we joined the Mennonite community, and when I got married I transitioned out of the Plain community altogether. 

PA Local: Are you comfortable sharing your reasons for leaving? 

Fisher: As a woman I knew that if I stayed I would be limited in what I could do, and I had big dreams. I wanted to start a business. You do see women (in the Plain community) doing more of that now — putting out cookbooks, for example — than they would have years ago. (...)

What many people don’t understand is that when you transition out of something like that, there’s so many things that can shift, both inwardly and outwardly. 

One of my fondest memories from growing up was dinnertime. You all gathered for it and it was never missed. It is the one tradition I have taken from my culture and said this is really valuable. We’re trying to make it easier for other people to do that now.

You can browse Kathryn's menu here and find regular updates here.

Colin Deppen, Spotlight PA

» Friday, April 15: Important reminder: The Southeast Asian Market at Philadelphia's FDR Park is now open every weekend for the season.

» Friday, April 15: Take a hike through the bygone lumber town of Ricketts in Columbia County. Bring good boots and bug spray. Entry is free.

» Saturday, April 16: Celebrate with an afternoon of food and live music as Pittsburgh's Chinatown gets its historic landmark status.

» Saturday, April 16: Fling into spring by dropping eggs from atop the Erie Land Lighthouse and hunting for more. Entry is free. Parking is limited.

» Saturday, April 16: Don a cardigan for a Taylor Swift-inspired dance party at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center. All ages. Tickets are $18.

» Monday, April 18: Play a round of "What Used to Be There? Lower Tannersville Edition" at the Pocono Heritage Center. Entry is free.

» Thursday, April 21: Go big at The Les Brown Big Band Weekend, a four-day event honoring Brown's big band legacy. Prices vary.

» Thursday, April 21: Join the fifth annual Jim Thorpe Indie Film Fest in, you guessed it, Jim Thorpe. Opening night tickets are $20.
In motion, via Debra R. Send us your Pennsylvania pics by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania

» One thing worth watching: Spotlight PA is hosting a GOP gubernatorial primary debate on April 19. It will be broadcast statewide on the PCN network and live-streamed online at spotlightpa.org

» One more thing worth watching: Ed and Day in the 'Burgh (featuring Day Bracey of PA Local fame) is a show about two comedians exploring Pittsburgh, and it's now streaming on mobile devices.

» One thing worth trying: This (I think) very difficult street-naming game that tests your knowledge of your own backyard in humbling fashion.

» One place worth visiting: Philly's FarmerJawn has a new spot (after an abrupt departure) and it's opening April 22 with an extravaganza.

» One thing worth seeing: Can you find Pennsylvania in this magic eye poster? A generation of 90s kids with eye strain thinks it's easy.

» COVID-19 UPDATE: Keep up with our coronavirus tracker, or find where to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

» Emails reveal cozy ties between Pa. Sen. and casino lobbyists

» Why skills games are at the center of a multimillion-dollar fight

» 'Slow start' for oversight of Pa. addiction recovery homes

» Spotlight PA wants your help flagging school health hazards

» You're invited to a free 'compassionate release' panel

» Election 2022: Tell Spotlight PA what coverage matters to you
The Rockville Bridge in Marysville is the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world. It's 120 years old, spans the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg, and was "Built to Last Forever."

Thanks for reading PA Local! We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? What do you want to see more of? Or, tell us your secret food recipes!
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