Originally published in the April 2022 issue of Lancaster County Magazine
Agapē Café & Grille’s warm and inviting vibe is instantly felt upon entering. Staff members offer friendly smiles and warmly welcome guests to the Strasburg-area restaurant that opened its doors in October 2020. In addition to the café, the complex includes the Beautiful Home Interiors store.
“When people walk in the front door, we want them to feel welcome,” says Ruthie Stoltzfus, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, JR. Having grown up on a Strasburg-area farm, she is happy to have a restaurant in Lancaster County. “We love Central Pennsylvania, and I always talked about having a restaurant here,” she explains. “We’re excited to be here in our hometown.”
This is the Stoltzfuses’ second restaurant, as they’ve owned and operated Dutch Family Restaurant in Germantown, Maryland, for over 15 years. Ruthie started working there when she was 16; she and JR bought the restaurant in 2005. They also own Beautiful Home Furniture and Design, which is located adjacent to the Germantown restaurant. Ruthie explains that the home-design and furniture store grew out of the spring and fall showcase design events they once held at their home.
The couple also incorporated a similar retail store – Beautiful Home Interiors – adjacent to Agapē Café. In addition to furnishings and home décor, the store also features specialty items made by local artisans, as well as seasonal items for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other holidays. The two spaces are open to one another, allowing guests waiting to dine at the café to browse the store.
When the couple knew they would finally be opening a restaurant in Strasburg, Ruthie says coming up with a name wasn’t easy. “I prayed on it and came up with the name ‘agapē’ which is the highest form of love – it’s unconditional love,” she explains.
Agapē seats about 120 inside, with seating consisting of a combination of high-tops, tables and booths. There’s also a private event space at the rear of the restaurant that seats up to 20 people. Outdoors, the tables on the covered porch can accommodate about 25 guests. “People really enjoy the outdoor dining area; we have patio heaters for the cooler shoulder months,” Ruthie notes.
A display case inside the front door sets the tone, as it features an array of tempting house-made pastries and desserts. Menu items are crafted using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Breakfast is served until noon and features such popular items as avocado toast and the western omelette, as well as platters such as creamed beef; sandwiches and wraps; waffles, including the popular Red, White & Blue waffle; pancakes and French toast.
Lunch and dinner items include homemade soup; appetizers such as fried pickles and sweet potato fries; hot and cold sandwiches and wraps and fresh salads. Burgers are made from 100% USDA choice Angus, which is freshly ground in-house.
Barbecue/smoked items include a smoked-meat sandwich (pork, brisket or pastrami) and a smokey brisket burger (burger, smoked brisket, smoked Gouda cheese, BBQ sauce and spring mix on a toasted brioche bun). Smoked burnt ends are on the appetizer menu, and there’s even a smoked brisket salad. Smoked-meat platters that include ribs are also available. Smoked meats are made with Agapē’s recipes and are smoked on the premises. Seafood platters entail crab cakes, fish or shrimp.
Boards such as the snack board, smokehouse board and charcuterie board are available for sharing.
Menu items are also available to go.
Agapē Café also offers a variety of coffees, hot teas, frappes and affogatos (a scoop of ice cream and espresso.) There’s also a variety of refreshing herb-infused fruit spritzers.
Agapē Café & Grille is located at 366 Hartman Bridge Road (Route 896) in Ronks. Hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Note: Reservations are not available, although call-ahead seating is offered. Online orders may be placed via the website. For more information, call 717-687-7590 or visit agapecafeandgrille.comand on Facebook and Instagram.