If you are looking for a quiet place for an overnight stay and a delicious breakfast, you will want to stay at Ethel’s Gourmet Kitchen Bed and Breakfast, a short distance north of Kalona.
Ethel’s B&B features two comfortable guest rooms as well as a large family room style common area on the lower level. The lower level “Secluded Serenity Room” is just off the common area and has a private bath. The “Warm Ambiance Room” is on the main floor. Both rooms are provided with robes and chocolates. Guests also have access to an enclosed porch and a well-landscaped backyard.
Guests at Ethel’s Gourmet Kitchen B & B are served an evening dessert (often featuring fresh seasonal fruit) and coffee, tea, water or wine if they wish.
In the morning guests are treated to a gourmet breakfast that features an Egg Entrée; Ham, Bacon, or Sausage; a variety of Fresh Fruit; a warm Freshly Baked Pastry; Juice and coffee, or tea. She has a large variety of recipes and ways of preparing all of the above. Occasionally guests prefer a much lighter breakfast which she will also accommodate.
Breakfast is normally served in the comfortable dining room that features an exotic garden scene on one wall, or they can enjoy breakfast in the enclosed porch depending on weather conditions.
Ethel is very careful about serving food to meet her guests’ dietary needs as well as their likes and dislikes. “I always ask them about their likes and dislikes and any special dietary issues when they make their reservations,” Ethel explained.
Most of her guests discover Ethel’s Gourmet Kitchen Bed & Breakfast through referrals from previous guests and online Google Search, or her Facebook business page. Others come to the Kalona area for events, or visiting family. Sometimes she gets guests who are attending University of Iowa events or just traveling through.
Best way to make your reservation is call Ethel on her cell phone 319-936-6131 or leaving a message on her home phone 319-656-2481. She gives guests the option of paying between $98 and $125 a night at their discretion, plus 5% lodging tax.
“I have had guests from throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Europe”. She recalls one family from France who said they only had a short time to visit Kalona. Ethel took them to the Twin County Amish Produce Auction. They were so intrigued with everything they stayed several hours enjoying the event!
“I really enjoy the global experience in visiting with the many fine guests throughout the world,” she said. “They enjoy friendly hospitality and the extra touches I’m able to give them.”
Since she grew up in the Amish Community about a mile west of Kalona, Ethel is very knowledgeable about the Amish culture. “I have taken guests to an Amish farm (with prior approval) to give them a personal experience of the Amish way of life,” Ethel pointed out. “The international visitors seem to have the most interest.”
When guests stay with Ethel, she is pleased to be able to share with them other places of interest such as the Kalona Historical Society & Historical Village and the unique shops available in Kalona. She has a good supply of Kalona Community brochures and business brochures.
A trained LPN nurse, Ethel did not have a “Bed and Breakfast” in mind when she built her country home about a mile north of Kalona on Highway 1. It was not until after she took early retirement from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics DeGowen Blood Center in 2003 that she launched her B&B. Ethel received her nurse’s training in La Junta, Co. She keeps up her nursing license.
Ethel attended Rosedale Bible College before going to Nicaragua under Rosedale Mennonite Missions. There she worked/volunteered as a nurse in a remote rural clinic for five years. She also has done volunteer nursing work in Haiti and Mexico.
She worked as a nurse in several departments at Mercy Hospital and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for over 30 years before taking early retirement.
“When I first retired,” she related, “I took the summer off, but then I couldn’t bring myself to applying for various jobs that previously interested me. I prayed to God to help me decide what I should do next. The idea of a B&B kept coming to mind. I couldn’t seem to shake that thought”. She did her due diligence by checking with other B&B’s in Kalona at the time and was told there was a need. Today she and Carolyn Beachy have the only two B&B’s in Kalona.
Since she likes plants and trees, the west wall of her dining room is a large mural of a garden scene.
When she has the time, Ethel continues her volunteer work and is a member of Upper Deer Creek Mennonite Church. She has been a member of the Kalona First Responders since 1989, and also volunteers with Informed Choices Medical doing phlebotomy (blood draws) as needed. This clinic works to prevent the need for abortions.