Cafe’ History

The Story of the “Old General Store on the Corner”

Built in 1881 by brothers Jacob (a distant uncle of the present owners) and Andrew Hostetler, the Emma General Store has served as an important establishment in the small community 5 miles from the nearest towns of Topeka and Shipshewana.

Originally known as Eden Mills, Emmatown was re-named after the young woman, Emma, who was to be the town’s first postmaster. The post office was only in operation for 8 years.

On a Sunday in September of 1931, the general store burnt down. A few months later, a new building was erected and still stands today. Since 1931, several owners have called this establishment “home”. In January 2007, the business was purchased by Ron and Colleen Hostetler and their daughter, Molly, lifetime residents of Emma. Instead of maintaining the building as a general store, they decided to expand its restaurant business and add catering. Emma Café & Catering was born.

(L to R) Rebecca and Travis Hostetler; Ron and Colleen Hostetler; Jill Hostetler; Ben and Molly (Hostetler) Michael
(L to R) Rebecca and Travis Hostetler; Ron and Colleen Hostetler; Jill Hostetler; Ben and Molly (Hostetler) Michael

Ron is a dairy and crop farmer. Colleen is an elementary education teacher. Molly was 21, and in college studying Hospitality Administration. Owning a restaurant had been Molly’s dream for several years. Having spent her entire high school career working for a restaurant and catering business, she developed a love for the people and the business. Unbeknownst to Molly, her mother also had dreams of some day owning a small café. Soon after she began classes in the fall of 2006, she and her family found out that the Emma Store was up for sale. Everything from there on fell right into place.

Emma Café and Catering has truly become a family business. From delivering pizza to frying up Molly's grandmother’s famous Swiss steaks, much of the Hostetler family is involved.