Holidays Mean Big Business At The Farmhouse In KansasDecember 12, 2018
When the old grocery in Olsburg, Kansas went up for sale, Erin Gutsch initially was hesitant in taking over the business.
But her dad insisted she buy it, telling her, “I think you need to do this. You’ll be really good at this.”
Gutsch relented, taking over ownership of the Loberg Grocery in 2013 and renaming it The Farmhouse. And now five years later, Gutsch opened a second location down the road in the town of Riley.
“I got a degree in biology and here I am running a restaurant,” she said. “Dad is a big believer that if you find something you love, and lo and behold I think I may have found it.”
Part café, market and catering operation, The Farmhouse is known for its home cooking (it serves dishes like chicken fried steak and brisket) along with its specialty Swedish foods for the holidays.
“We are full-service,” Gutsch said. “In a small town, you kind of have to be that way.”
With the holiday season in full swing, Gutsch is making Swedish delicacies like ostkaka and the store’s famous potato sausage. The sausage recipe was handed down from store owner to store owner, and last year it was so popular that The Farmhouse sold more than 600 pounds.
The café also sells Swedish goods that have been imported like lutefisk, herring, lingonberries and knäckebröd.
The town of Olsburg was settled by the Swedes in the 1870s, and Gutsch (maiden name Nelson) can trace her Swedish heritage down her dad’s side of the family. Gutsch’s ancestors emigrated from Sweden during the big migration in the late 1800s and found their way to Kansas, where they settled in Olsburg.
“It was my grandma who taught me how to make a lot of the Swedish foods,” Gutsch said.
The Farmhouse always has been a significant establishment in the local Swedish community. With its original wood floors and old tin ceiling, the old market has been around since the town was developed in the late 1800s. Originally it was a farmers’ union, which acted as the local mercantile with groceries and other supplies.
“It’s truly a piece of history,” said Gutsch, who recently found square nail heads and original two-by-fours in the walls while remodeling.
Paying homage to the building’s history as a market, Gutsch still maintains a grocery aspect, carrying items that people might need to run out and get at the last minute. Throughout the years the store has changed many hands, but despite several ownerships, it always has maintained the same concept as a grocery, selling specialty Swedish foods.
Each year The Farmhouse also supplies its authentic Swedish dishes to the Olsburg Lutheran Church’s Swedish Supper, which is the first weekend in December. At the gathering, traditional Swedish dishes are served like lutefisk, herring, potato sausage, brown beans, rosettes, ginger snaps and ostkaka. Church-goers make all the side dishes, and The Farmhouse supplies all the potato sausage.
At home, Gutsch embraces her heritage as well. Last year she and her two daughters made St. Lucia buns for the first time.
“They were so good, and now we are going to do this every year,” she said.