WHAT: The Home Place (bulk foods, bakery, and furniture)
WHERE: 7771 U.S. 68 Georgetown, OH 45121
PHONE: (937) 378-3400
HIGHLIGHTS: Homemade doughnuts every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All days: homemade granola.
This is the first installment in the “Plain In My Backyard” series. What follows is an account of my visit to The Home Place in Brown County, Ohio. Not all of these series installments will focus on businesses and they probably won’t all be such glowing accounts, but I really, really liked this business so I have nothing but kind words!
Delbert and Susan Schlabach arrived in eastern Brown County in 2006 attracted by the area’s rural isolation.
“We are both comfortable in isolated settings and smaller groups, so we were always open to moving to another community,” Delbert explains. The Schlabach’s lived in northern Indiana’s sprawling Plain community (Amish, Beachy Amish, Mennonites, and German Baptists all call that area home) when they heard about the new Mennonite settlement in Brown County through a mutual friend. It didn’t take long to persuade them to move. Delbert spent 10 years of his childhood living in Paraguay where there is a Plain presence. He met Susan when she came down to do some mission work.
The Schlabach’s have 4 girls and 2 boys and with a growing family they knew if they were going to move they needed to do it sooner rather than later. But deciding what to do in Brown County to make a living was the challenge. Delbert was in construction all of his life but starting from scratch in a new place is tough and with four daughters and two young sons a family construction group wasn’t really in the cards.
The gregarious Delbert found his niche when he decided to open the 4000 square foot Home Place on US 68 just south of Georgetown. In started out as a furniture store but when the Great Recession really kicked in Delbert realized he needed to diversify – and fast. Food was never far from the furniture. The building that the Home Place is in had been a banquet and catering facility in its previous life. So the Schlabach’s kept the kitchen up to code and when the Home Place celebrated its grand opening Susan baked mini-loaves of bread to hand out to customers. Then she started baking bread every Saturday. And then pies, cookies, and granola. And as the recession took hold he realized more people were buying food than furniture,so he added local Ohio honey, popcorn and noodles. And soon the food because a permanent part of the store. Since then they have continued to expand, adding a deli along with more baked goods. All the baked goods are scratch-made, no preservatives. But it was the homemade granola that first put them on the culinary map. CAPTIONS BELOW: Wrapping cheese and making sandwiches, all part of the job at the Home Place, even items like salad dressing and chicken salad are made from scratch.
Susan made some at first and experimented with selling it. A few bags went out the door. But then something began happening. People began coming back in and looking for more. An elderly woman. A beefy farmer in bib overalls. A local businessman. They’d all come in asking “Hey, where’s the granola?”
So Delbert realized that they needed to keep making it (added bonus: the shelf life of granola is longer than, say, homemade bread)
“It’s crisp, but not difficult to chew,” Susan says of her granola. And the secret is to get that baking temperature and time just right so it doesn’t come out too soft or too hard. It’s Goldilocks granola, “just right.” And it IS good granola...I pretty much noshed down a whole bag myself...great with yogurt, plain as a snack and I had it several times at home with soy milk.
The Schlabach’s brand of granola which they label “Tried and True” granola can now be found in some bulk food stores and supermarkets throughout the Ohio and Indiana area.
While granola has been their bread and butter, The Home Place now is also known for their pies and crème horns (homemade filling made with vanilla pudding). But here’s perhaps the best gem of all:
I’ve written before about Yoder’s Restaurant Peanut Butter pie in Sarasota, Florida. The pie is amazing in its creamy consistency and peanutty flavor. Susan Schlabach’s aunt was the late Amanda Yoder, the founder of the Sarasota restaurant and the one who’s peanut butter pie recipe is so popular. Susan learned from her Aunt Amanda the recipe so customers of the Home Place are essentially treated to the same pie. Yuh-Um!
The Home Place continues to grow and expand. Delbert has put his eldest daughter in charge of the growing granola business, with plans to move the making of it to a larger facility soon.
"Growth is good, but I just never want to lose the personal touch," Delbert says.
The Home Place is definitely worth a visit in this humble editor's opinion! If you go, tell them the Amish Cook's editor sent you:)