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Amish-Owned Shop Gains Popularity

ARTHUR, Ill. (AP) - Visitors to Arthur perhaps aren't used to seeing an Amish horse and buggy rig at a coffee shop's drive-through window.

It's common for Arthur residents, however. Horses and buggies are familiar sights in the town of about 2,200, which has approximately 900 to 1,000 Old Order Amish families in the surrounding area known as Illinois Amish Country.

Located on Illinois Route 133, Roselen's Coffees and Delights coffee shop, owned by sisters Lena Otto and Rose Plank, both of the Amish faith, sees its share of horses in the drive-through.

Roselen's may well be the only Amish-owned coffee shop in Illinois some say ``the only one anywhere.''

The shop is one of about 900 Amish-owned cottage businesses in Arthur, according to a member of the Amish community.

The store, with its white lace valances at the windows and white picket fence separating the dining area from customers waiting to order, has its own charm. A small alcove with a couch and bookshelves provides a cozy, relaxing spot to have a cup of the featured brew.

The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday.

"This is something I've always wanted to do,'' Plank said.

She and sister Lena teamed up three years ago to open the shop, serving hot espresso drinks, as well as summer favorites, iced mochas and latte drinks, along with breakfasts and lunches.

Noting that owning the business together hasn't caused any major sisterly disagreements, the two pointed to each other without hesitation when asked which sister was ``the bossy one.''

"Lattes were new to a lot of people here when we first opened,'' Otto said, ``but now they know what they like, and that's what they get all the time.

"Frappes and lattes are favorites. What they order depends a lot on whether it's hot or cold outside,'' Plank said.

Although famous for the fresh-roasted coffee, Roselen's also draws customers from far and wide for its breakfasts and lunches made and served at the shop. The women offer a children's menu, coffee and drink menu, breakfast and lunch menus. They also serve 24 flavors of ice cream, which they flavor themselves.

``We start with vanilla and add our flavors with an extract,'' Otto said, ``which is fat-free and gluten-free, and can be sugar-free.''
The ice cream is 6 percent fat.

``We can also mix the flavors with sugar-free hand-dipped ice cream. That's nice for our diabetic customers,'' Otto said, ``and pretty rare, I think, for them to have so much choice.''

The sandwich menu includes a special with homemade bologna, American cheese and apple butter. The sisters make their own bologna from ``grandpa's recipe,'' a German bologna with seasoning somewhere between pastrami and salami, they said.

They make their sandwiches from homemade bread, and also have their own special recipe for breakfast cinnamon rolls.

There are daily soup specials, including potato soup, vegetable-cheese soup, and chili made from their mother's recipe.

``It's a little sweet, not too strong and spicy,'' Plank said.

Ice cream cakes are another specialty. ``We make our own,'' she said, ``with cold fudge and brownies in the center, or sometimes strawberries or peanut butter.

``We custom make them whatever the customer wants.''

Gift baskets featuring gourmet coffees and teas are available at the store.

``We also do a basket with pastries,'' Otto said, ``and one with meat and cheese, but we always like to add coffee to the baskets that's our product.''

In addition to owning the coffee shop together, Otto also works for her sister's husband Dennis Plank at Tri-County Welding, which can sometimes make a long work week.

Plank, who lives ``about 30 seconds away'' from the coffee shop, said she is ``pretty much always on call.

``We do have a good manager, and some good people working for us.''

The mother of four children ranging from age 3 to 12, Plank said living so close to the shop is helpful.

The best part of owning the business, Otto said, is greeting the customers.

``We've made a lot of new friends. That's the reward for all the work involved.''

``If you are a people watcher,'' said one customer, ``Roselen's is the place to go. There are places to sit outside. And, there are always people coming and going, and horses and buggies out front. It's a busy shop.''

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