The Dutch Mill Restaurant in Bluffton Indiana, in Our Tentative Times, a cyberzine

     Updated January 2, 2003   URL is

Bud Deihl’s Photos of this fire are on-line here. Many thanks to Bud.

The 1950’s Are Back?

They never left Bluffton

The Dutch Mill Restaurant

Before I got this page on line, the venerable Dutch Mill caught fire and burned to the ground. No, there was no arson, we were relieved to learn. (Pretzels was an arson fire, just a couple of days before the Mill disaster.) We are all reeling. Now 85 people are out of work, and Kenny Steffen says he is going to retire, that he can’t rebuild it.

The 500 people the restaurant seated are wandering the streets, wondering how this could happen to our oldest restaurant, the restaurant where everyone comes from northern Indiana, from Ohio, from Michigan. Webmeister Kelly Royse-Keefe wrote that he ate the Mill’s chop suey whenever he came here from Missouri. It was the first restaurant my family dined in when we came to Wells County to find a farm to buy, back in 1972. Everyone was really friendly.

New Building On Dutch Mill Site

First Bank of Berne, the largest in Well/Adams counties, has bought the northernmost part of the old Dutch Mill property for a bank building. There will be a 125 foot street into the property, to avoid having traffic westbount on 124 end up in the edifice. The building will be set back from the road.

Kenny Steffen and his wife Roberta have given part of the land to the city of Bluffton for future expansion of Kehoe Park. There is still room on the property for a restaurant.

Recently, Bluffton alum Tom Turner, who worked at the Mill from 1962 thru 1965, wrote from Orlando where he lives. He wanted to know why I hadn’t brought you up to date on this event. This page is for Tom and everyone who remembers The Mill.

Glenn Moser started the restaurant in 1948. He had been a cook in the Army. The Dutch Mill grew into a landmark. If any readers want to send in their Dutch Mill reminiscences, I will print them here.

Photos of this fire, by Bud Deihl, are on-line here now.

Inside the Dutch Mill diner section.

The diner decoration was really cool.

This is one of the pictures I didn’t get on-line in time. I took all these photos in the 1950’s style diner part of the Mill.

Just a tiny corner of the Dutch Mill, diner division. The whole large room was a sea of nostalgia. That poster on the left says "George Barris."

Rumor has it that these were actual cars of patrons who did not tip. On the banks of the Wabash, the curb girls shrank these cars into the little trophies that adorned the walls of the diner inside the Dutch Mill.

Memories…. It’s been long years since there was curb service, but you could drive up to the window, pick up your order, and eat it in your car under the canopy.

So long, Dutch Mill. For so long we enjoyed you. Forever long our memories will last. So long.

First letter of memories:

  1. FromTom Turner in Orlando, Florida

    My wife and I just read the Dutch Mill, Bummies, and James Dean pages. We really enjoyed them. My wife (Judith Stewart Turner) is a 1966 graduate of Fairmount High School. We are sorry to hear that the Dutch Mill will not be rebuilt. What a great place that was. When I started working there in 1962, I was washing dishes at 65 cents an hour. I moved on to broasting chicken, grilling steaks, and working in the Cupboard, and the Drive in, which had curb service at that time. I think I was making 1.15 an hour when I left in 1965. I can truthfully say I have never worked harder for less money than I made there, but I enjoyed working there, and the people were great. Glen Moser was a good boss, as was Kenny Steffen. Kenny related so well to us younger people. One of my co-workers, Steve Devore, is now a doctor in Des Moines, Iowa.


Bud Deihl’s Photos of this fire are on-line here. Many thanks to Bud.

Have you read the story of our 1950 drive-in where they are about to open for the season? Visit Bummies for your tummy.

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Here’s the link to Bummies, our other drive-in in Bluffton.

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This page and its photos are entirely the work of Sandra Weinhardt. Send all additions and corrections for the Bluffton pages to me at