Amy Hessel is the chef and owner of the Rail Trail Cafe since 2017

Amy hails from Houston, and moved to Baltimore in 1998 to pursue a Culinary Arts degree from Baltimore International College. She graduated in 2002 with an Associate’s Degree in Cooking and Baking, and a Bachelor’s Restaurant Management.  From her early teens, Amy pictured running a cafe of her own.


Over the years, Amy talked with her husband, Rob, about opening a restaurant or bakery, and when the opportunity to purchase the New Freedom Rail Trail Cafe came up, Amy knew without a doubt that this was meant to be! Amy kept many of the cafe’s original menu items that are known and loved, adding her own spin to the recipes. She also added weekly specials and homemade baked goods to showcase her culinary talents! Amy continues to use high quality, locally sourced ingredients, supporting local farms and small businesses whenever possible. 

Amy makes everything, including the renowned baked goods, from scratch. There are no shortcuts when it comes to providing customers with a fabulous meal!

The New Freedom Rail Trail Cafe is located in the historic New Freedom train station, originally built in the 1860’s with a long, rich history. Throughout the years, many public figures have passed through the station, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address, and sadly, several presidential funeral trains. In 1997, a restoration project commenced, restoring the station to its appearance circa 1935-1945. What remains of the original train station is the package window and ticket window located in the seating area of the current Café. The freight room of the original building is now a museum operated by York County Parks & Recreation (open seasonally). The building where the business is located in New Freedom is one of only four remaining stations that once stood along the Northern Central Railroad.

With indoor and outdoor seating, guests can delight in the sights and sounds of Northern Central Railway, an excursion train that runs along the tracks of the York County Heritage Rail Trail. You can walk, bike or drive over to say hi to Amy and her welcoming staff, and enjoy a delicious homemade meal, with a cup of freshly roasted coffee, served in a warm, inviting atmosphere at the historic Rail Trail Café.