Buhler's Mustard Seed coffee shop and deli serves made-from-scratch baked goods in a cozy atmosphere

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News
Karla Knechtel, who owns the Mustard Seed in Buhler with her husband Bill, comes in daily to create homemade cinnamon rolls with frosting and a variety of other desserts.

Sometimes tiny seeds, like a Mustard Seed, can grow into a large plant and bring big surprises.

Just like the Mustard Seed parable, for which a downtown restaurant/coffee shop is named, the Mustard Seed grew from a small shop into a much larger one.

Mustard Seed owner Karla Knecktel, who is the daughter of a minister commends Cindy Kaufman, the restaurant's original owner. Years ago, Knecktel worked for Kaufman, until she eventually bought the business four years ago.

"It takes faith to start a business and keep it going," she said.

A turkey and cranberry cream cheese sandwich and pasta salad are ready to be served Wednesday afternoon at the Mustard Seed.

From its Main Street location in Buhler, this coffee shop serves up lots of home-baked and cooked-from-scratch specialties, locally-roasted coffee from Buckskin Road Coffee in Inman and fresh-brewed Republic of Tea - all served up in a homey mustard- and green-colored atmosphere. 

"It's wonderful," said Vicki Gillette of McPherson, who ate an Asian salad on a croissant with her friend Katy Bell of Hutchinson.

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Those are words that confirm why Knechtel comes into the Mustard Seed kitchen each morning at 5 a.m. to whip up fresh muffins, cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, and pies. During the summer, Knechtel serves homemade granola topped with yogurt and berries, but as fall approaches, her thoughts turn to oatmeal and raspberry/orange scones.

Giant cookies are a favorite of people who visit the Mustard Seed, including the Turtle with pecan and caramel drizzle, M&M candies and sugar cookies with homemade frosting.

"The teachers love it," she said. 

The restaurant caters to all ages, from Buhler high school students on up.

"I love the relationship with the people who come in," Knecktel said. 

Knecktel learned how to bake from her grandmother, Virginia, who grew up in Buhler. From an early age, Knecktel would watch her grandmother craft pie crusts from scratch, and mix together scones and apple crisps. 

Each day, there is a variety of rotating baked goods, all starting with Stafford's Hudson Mill Flour. Along with pumpkin white chocolate and lemon blueberry muffins, Mustard Seed serves up chocolate chip espresso cookies and peach crumble. Gluten-free dishes are always on the menu as well. 

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"One of my favorite things is seeing how people relate to dessert because of the memories associated with it," Knechtel said. "They have a relationship with dessert."

As for the non-baked goods, Knecktel pats her mother, Joan, on the shoulder.

Katy Bell, left, and Vicki Gillette visit as they eat their lunch Wednesday afternoon at the Mustard Seed in Buhler.

"My mom is the soup master," she said. "She taught me how to cook."

In addition to the baked goods, the soups and chicken pasta salad are also homemade. And Knecktel's husband Bill comes in each morning before work to slice all the meats and cheeses that they expect to use throughout the day.

Kris England of Bentley comes in often, ordering up a southwestern turkey sandwich with a turtle cookie. 

"It's convenient," he said. But most of all, "it's yummy!"

Knecktel and her son Gabriel, the store's manager, greet most customers by name. 

"It's important to create a welcome environment," Knecktel said. "To let people know that they are welcome to come and enjoy themselves here. We make it a point to connect with them."