Our Story



The Wishmaker Past


The 10,000 sqaure foot building was constructed as the home of prominent physician & former County Coroner, Dr. Eli Stofer & his wife Mrs. E. Stofer in the late 1800's who passed the reigns to another doctor, who then sold it to an owner who turned it into a high-end furniture store called Myers Furniture.

The joke in town was that it was furniture you wished you could afford. People would say that their grandparents would save all year for one piece of furniture because it was all that they could afford. The furniture was known for being incredible quality.
Once Myers went out of business in 2010, the building sat empty for a while and the community worried that having a property that large sit empty would potentially bring down the town.
Fortunately, a few months later, Bellville natives, Brad & Karen Smith took it upon themselves to make sure Bellville wasn't left with an empty hole at its heart of town.

Brad & Karen Smith - Cassie & Vic Swisher

Wishmaker was one of the most prominent buildings in this small Richland County Village & was transformed from a ramshackle, empty hulk into an elegant inn, restaurant and winery. In this process, the Wishmaker House has helped establish downtown Bellville, Ohio as a surprisingly charming destination for day trippers, overnight guests and diners. The Wishmaker built in the 1890's, is located next to the town park and picturesque 1879 bandstand at the center of town. 


The Wishmaker House Present


Donnie and Jennifer met in January 2014 by chance through Donnie's sister Lisa. A cancelled trip, by Lisa, to a benefit in their home town of Youngstown, Oh., though they had not met and there was no formal discussion of a "set up", Donnie decided that he would forge forward and take a chance on a "blind" date. As love would have it, they were perfect together.

Shortly there after, they settled in Donnie's home in Marysville ,Oh. Everything began to roll together when Donnie had his 50th birthday. Jennifer decided that she wanted this day to be very special. She made plans for the couple to stay at a B & B near Bardstown, Ky. She also decided that she wanted Donnie to try different experiences, so...… a bourbon trail tour. This was a strange combination. You see, Donnie did not like B&B's and even more … has no interest in alcohol at all. As chance would have it, it was a trip that would change their lives. The second Donnie entered the lodging, he fell in love with it. The next day, they traveled to a local distillery. Upon arriving at the crest of a road, they could see the distillery property. It was breath taking.

All dressed up for Christmas

Donnie knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. During a discussion with the B&B owner, they discovered that it was for sale, so, they made an offer. What followed was two years of disappointment. The offer acceptance was withdrawn and renegotiated several times. Just when things looked their worst, Jennifer approached Donnie with the prospect of looking at a B&B in Bellville, Oh. "Bellville, Oh." Donnie said. "Who wants to go to a B&B in Oh?" As it turns out..... lots of people.

Jennifer explained that it had a restaurant as well as a winery. Though his experience with restaurants was limited, Donnie knew they were a pain to run with very little return. As for the winery.... LOL.. once again, Donnie does not like alcohol. Donnie decided that it was only right to give it a chance, since Jennifer supported his dream of owning B&Bs. After a night stay at The Wishmaker and a discussion with Brad and Karen Smith (the owners) and their son-in-law/vintner Vic, Donnie was hooked. Donnie may not like alcohol, but, he loves potential.

And, The Wishmaker had it all. The restaurant could help the B&B through the lean months and the wine had tremendous opportunity for profit. After several discussions with the Smiths, Donnie and Jennifer realized what very special people they were. Donnie and Brad developed a friendship immediately. An offer was made in Oct. of 2017 and immediately accepted by Brad.

The next 9 months would prove to be an incredibly roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Being determined, Donnie spent the next several months working and re-working the deal to make it palatable to the bank. 

As a positive point in this rough period, it was time to make the Van Meters official. Donnie and Jennifer were married in the Florida Keys in April of 2018.  


Upon their return, it was time to get back to the deal. Unfortunately, at the end of April, all had fallen apart and it appeared to be over. Donnie and Jennifer felt that it was only right to tell the Smiths in person. The meeting was over dinner at The Wishmaker House and was very somber. At this point, Brad took control of the conversation. Brad insisted that we not give up. We had come way too far, overcame way too many obstacles. He was right!!

The Van Meters closed on The Wishmaker House B&B, Restaurant and Winery on Friday, June 8,2018. What a celebration it was.

With a wedding and the purchase, their lives changed in less than a month and a half. They had no clue at this point how true this would be.


Along Came Our General Manager, Kathryn Cain

     By the grace of God, Jennifer had become close friends with a young lady that worked for her at a cosmetic line at a Columbus mall. Kathryn Cain was from the Mansfield area and knew about The Wishmaker House long before the Van Meters.

Kathryn was instrumental in our decision to buy. Kathryn was asked to be the General Manager before the purchase was complete and accepted.  Little did the Van Meters know what a critical decision for The Wishmaker House this would be. Both would agree that their current success would not have happened without Kathryn. The original plan was for Donnie and Jennifer to spend 6 months to get things in order, then return to Marysville. After 5 months, they realized that there was so much to do that they were there to stay. 

They never intended to bring out the full potential of their creation. With our steady growth, The Wishmaker House now has a General Manager & a Operations & Marketing Manager. The demands keep all of us busy but we are so very thankful for the opportunity to grow with the community. 


Our Newest Addition - Old Franklin Church

With the recent addition of The Old Franklin Church Wedding and Event Space, our fabulous staff will continue to grow.


The Wishmaker Story Is Not Over



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