Best of Lancaster 2014

Announcing Lancaster's blue ribbon businesses, plus a few of Our Favorite Things.

Photography by Donovan Roberts Witmer

Reader Favorites:

Best Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company

It’s no secret: Our readers love Lancaster Brewing Company. Originally opened under the name Lancaster Malt Brewing Company, the business we know today has become a destination for great Lancaster County beer and dining over the past 20 years. And with more than 25 varieties of beer brewed every year and distributed in six states along the East Coast, it’s safe to call this a carbonated success story. Some of their most popular varieties include the dark, dry Milk Stout, crisp and fruity Strawberry Wheat and (our favorite!) the Hop Hog IPA. If you’re interested in their process, stop by the brewery at 3 p.m. any Saturday or Sunday for a free tour, or schedule a mid-week tour appointment where you can hobnob with the brewer himself. Brewmaster Bill Moore, who holds the title of most-decorated brewer in the state of Pennsylvania, can give you the scoop on some of the company’s fun facts. For example, did you know that Lancaster Brewing Company follows the historic German law of “reinheisgebot” that mandates that only malt, hops, yeast and water can be used while making their beer? Or did you know that all of the spent grain from brewing is donated to a local dairy cattle farmer to feed his cows? If this has your interest bubbling, plan a visit soon! - H.W.

Lancaster Brewing Company | Locations in Lancaster and Harrisburg | | 717-391-6258

Best Local TV Personality: Meredith Jorgensen, WGAL 8

Meredith Jorgensen loves telling “character” stories. Whether she’s relating the account of someone who is funny, talented or hardworking, she finds these are the tales that have true staying power. “People remember stories about other people,” she says. Perhaps it is for this reason that Central Pennsylvania residents find Jorgensen, who has quite a story of her own, so memorable. The Long Island, N.Y., native made her way to Lancaster and earned a reporting spot on the popular local station WGAL more than a decade ago. While in the process of building a family in the Susquehanna Valley, as well as building her broadcast journalism career, Jorgensen was given some devastating news that put many of her plans on hold. Because of an extremely rare condition called gestational trophoblastic disease, instead of creating an embryo, her body produced a cancerous tumor within her uterus. Jorgensen and her husband made the difficult decision to share her journey with viewers before she took a hiatus from WGAL. During that time, fans flooded inboxes her with cards, emails and well wishes. And after treatment, multiple surgeries (including a hysterectomy at the age of 32) and 18 months off-air, Jorgensen was pronounced cancer-free just over a year ago. Now, Jorgenson is not just surviving; she’s thriving. “It’s been an adventure… but it was such a blessing to return to a job that I love,” she says. - H.W.

Meredith Jorgensen | WGAL 8 |

Best Pizza: Alley Kat

Alley Kat’s “pizza queen” Alice Hobbs is so proud of this honor. She’s been making this perfected pie since the Alley Kat opened 11 years ago in September. Some of the secrets, she says, are the sauce and the cheese medley. We’re pretty sure it’s the combination of those with the thin crispy crust that makes this Lancaster’s best pizza. Pepperoni is the most popular way it’s ordered, says owner John Katoris, but he’s a firm believer that a good pizza needs no toppings, and this one is tried-and-true tasty as-is.
Want to taste for yourself? Monday through Friday, a pizza lunch buffet includes homemade soup and salad for $7.50 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays you can get two pizzas for $15; Mondays Alley Kat offers $6 pizzas (dine-in only); and on Tuesdays, $20 gets you an order of their famous Caribbean spring rolls plus a salad and pizza. Katoris says pizza is their number-one seller, followed by the Caribbean spring rolls (stuffed with chicken and black bean hummus and served with sweet chili sauce), and the Greek salad is quite popular too. “It has good feta. I’m Greek and I know my feta,” he jokes. But it’s the quality ingredients, like the margherita pepperoni used on the pizzas, that keeps people coming back to this neighborhood bar and restaurant for over a decade. “We serve fun, casual food,” Katoris says. “You get your money’s worth here.” - K.C.H.

Alley Kat | 30 W. Lemon St., Lancaster | | 717-509-8686

Best Senior Living Community: Willow Valley Communities

We can easily understand why Lancaster County is one of the nation’s most desirable destinations for retirement. Rolling hills, lush farmland and a close-knit community are just a few of the characteristics our region has to offer, not to mention some top-notch senior living communities. Our 2014 winner, Willow Valley Communities, is celebrating 30 years of doing what they do best: providing residents with the senior years they’ve always imagined. What does this entail? Well, to start, Willow Valley continues to meet the demand for those who wish to retreat to Lancaster, most recently with an expansion called Providence Park that includes brand new villas, townhomes currently under construction and apartments soon to come. The community prides itself on the vast array of living options it offers residents, whether that’s a studio apartment or a 3,000 square foot townhome. Adjacent to Providence Park, and arguably the most exciting element of the expansion, is a brand new clubhouse available to all Willow Valley residents, as well as their families and guests. The list of activities the clubhouse accommodates is almost endless, including bowling (6 lanes of fun!), vintage arcade games like Pac Man and Skee Ball a golf simulator, pickleball, Har-Tru clay tennis courts, swimming in an outdoor pool and so much more. Who says seniors don’t have more fun? - H.W.

Willow Valley Communities | 450 Willow Valley Lakes Drive, Willow Street | | 717-464-6800

Best Photographer: Jeremy Hess Photographers

At the age of 17, Lancaster native Jeremy Hess wanted a camera; the start of his story is as simple as that. So he cleverly convinced his parents to buy him one by enrolling in a photography class. Little did he, or his parents, know that what started as a teenager’s curiosity would one day turn into a successful career of visual storytelling in the place where he was born and raised. After perfecting his photography skills at school in Colorado and spending some time in missionary work abroad, Hess returned to Lancaster and started a business out of his bedroom in his childhood home. Fourteen years later, Jeremy Hess Photographers is a six-person team of pure talent (including Susquehanna Style’s very own partner photographer Donovan Roberts Witmer) photographing subjects ranging from blissful brides to mouthwatering dishes to tender family moments. The latter is something that the team is developing quite extensively with a new kind of portraiture, one that is intergenerational and more intimate than your standard family shoot. What they call “legacy” portraits consist of multiple sessions with grandparents, parents and children, with the objective of capturing the life and personality of families in Lancaster County, where heritage is such a sacred thing. “We wanted to change people’s perspective about what a portrait is and what it can be,” says Hess. Judging by their success to date, we’re sure that they can. - H.W.

Jeremy Hess Photographers | 824 First St., Lancaster  | | 717-390-7050

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Things

Village Greens Miniature Golf

When her dad designed Village Greens Miniature Golf in 1972, Cindy Fairchild explains, “He loved the feeling of nature. He loved golf,  and he wanted to present the same experience in an adult game.” His engineering mind supplied the challenges to the holes, and the Strasburg-area destination has been a Lancaster local favorite for generations as the family-run business continues to supply “miniature golf in a superb garden setting.”

Fifteen acres of courses, 23 holes on the harder gold course, 18 on the easier orange course, and 12,000 to 14,000 flowers planted this spring equals one fun summer outing. Fairchild’s favorite spot is the island. “I just love the tall stately cathedral feeling of the Knee Cyprus,” she says. Some favorites on the courses include the iconic waterfall on hole 14 on the gold course where one loyal customer and bride-to-be are planning their wedding this summer. Hole six on the orange course has its own covered bridge, and number nine is where customers come back after 50 years to find their names inscribed inside “the cave.” Don’t miss sharing a handmade milkshake with your sweetie at the end of a good game. - K.C.H.

Village Greens Miniature Golf | 1444 Village Road, Strasburg | | 717-687-6933

The Oregon Dairy

Take one part each amazing playground, homemade ice cream, and family restaurant; throw in some pygmy goats and deer to feed; put them all together with special seasonal events; and you’ve got one great big reason why The Oregon Dairy is one of our favorite things. Kids and adults alike love this place for its wholesome family fun, from the farm themed playground, including a twisty silo slide, to its Lancaster-County-favorite fare. Cows from the farm on location produce the milk that makes the Leiby’s ice cream served there, with 24 flavors to choose from, including caramel chocolate chip, coconut almond fudge and peach yogurt.

Aug. 8, 22 and Sept. 12, enjoy the free summer concert series on the deck with a cold ice cream cone. Mark your calendars for Oregon Dairy’s famed corn maze (completed by nearly 7,000 people last year!) and Pumpkin Days beginning Sept. 19. Other local favorite events throughout the year include an Easter egg hunt, breakfast and visit with the bunny as well as Family Farm Days full of free fun in June.
Families also enjoy the delicious specialty cakes made from scratch every day by the Oregon Dairy bakery for anything from birthdays and anniversaries to weddings. Through November, birthday parties, receptions and events can be booked on the deck or in one of their big red barns. Oregon Dairy really is “so much more than just milk” (which, by the way, comes from the cows there and is sold at the grocery store on site). - K.C.H.

The Oregon Dairy | 2900 Oregon Pike, Lititz | | 717-656-2856

Spooky Nook Sports

“Sp-OO-ky Nook” or “Sp-UH-ky Nook,” call it what you will. We’re just calling it the sports mecca of Central Pennsylvania. This gigantic athletic facility (14 acres under the roof and more than 50 acres outdoors) offers a place for every type of sport or game you can possibly imagine. From popular varieties like volleyball and baseball to the less traditional fencing, martial arts and even dodgeball, Spooky Nook Sports has it. Not to mention, this is the home of the women’s USA field hockey team, where the Olympic athletes practice and compete in the easily identifiable white dome you can see from miles away. Professional players are not the only ones welcome at Spooky Nook, however. The fitness center is open to the public for memberships and $15 day passes, and the facility offers family activities galore. For example, the nation’s only Clip ‘n Climb climbing arena (which features an automatic belay, eliminating the need for someone to hold your rope while climbing) is housed here. What else could this compound possibly offer athletic enthusiasts? Next up, Spooky Nook will be adding a hotel to accommodate visitors to the many national and international tournaments it hosts, so keep an eye out for updates. - H.W.

Spooky Nook Sports | 2913 Spooky Nook Road, Manheim | | 717-945-7087


Have you ever heard of a stroopwafel? Neither had we, until we discovered the Stroopie, a local baked good with an international backstory. If you’re a coffee- or tea-drinker, you have good reason to fall in love with this traditional Dutch pastry, which consists of soft caramel sandwiched between two thin cinnamon cookies. Simply place the sweet on the rim of a piping hot beverage and the steam will melt its sugary center, creating the perfect caffeine companion. When it came time for Ed McMannes and Dan Perryman, creators of Lancaster’s Stroopies, to move on (Perryman went to serve the people of India by expanding the business to a second location near Delhi), local husband-and-wife duo Jonathan and Jennie Groff volunteered to take over the business here in the Susquehanna Valley. They each gave a year of work to earn equity in the company and have been creating these caramel treats since 2010. The Groffs have put their own spin on the classic stroopwafel; for instance, Stroopies now offers a Wilbur-chocolate-dipped variety, as well as a gluten-free option. Hungry now? Stroopies can be found locally at Prince Street Café, Central Market or other locations around the region. Visit their website for an entire listing of locations or online purchasing. - H.W.

Stroopies | | 717-875-3426


While Lititz had been in love with these subs for the past four years, downtown Lancaster is catching the buzz since Bruno’s opened on Queen Street in January of this year. “What sets Bruno’s apart are the rolls from Philly,” explains manager Nancy Bruhn. We have to agree the hard sesame roll has the perfect bite and chew ratio to the meat and cheese on Bruno’s subs. “And the customer service,” she adds. Bruhn knows everyone by name, and some regular customers have their orders up on the wall of the kitchen because they come so often. Meat is sliced fresh every morning, and the aged sharp provolone that tops some sandwiches is a unique upgrade.

Their number one seller is the Sharp Italian with prosciutto, capicola, aged sharp provolone and Genoa salami, followed by the Spicy Italian made with hot sopressata, hot capicola, cotechino and aged sharp provolone. The pastrami on rye has also become very popular in the city, Bruhn adds. “A lot of people compare us to Primo’s in the Philly market’s Italian district,” she says. Surprisingly, owner Jedd Erdman isn’t Italian, as the name Bruno’s might imply. “He didn’t think anyone would buy an Italian hoagie from a guy named Jedd,” she laughs. - K.C.H.

Bruno’s | Locations in Lititz, Lebanon, Greenfield and Lancaster |

“Best of Lancster” 2014 Winners:

Food and Drink

Best Asian Restaurant: Rice and Noodles
Best Bar Food: American Bar & Grill
Best Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Company
Best Brunch: Eden Resort
Best Burger: Joe's Famous American Kitchen
Best Business Lunch Spot: Isaac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches
Best Candy Shop: Miesse Candies
Best Casual Date Spot: Characters Pub
Best Caterer: Greenfield Catering
Best Cheesesteak: Captain Gus's Steak Shop
Best Cocktails: The Belvedere Inn
Best Coffee Shop: Mean Cup
Best Craft Beer Spot: The Fridge
Best Cupcake Shop: Sublime Cupcakes
Best Diner: Lyndon City Line Diner
Best Dive Bar You Hate to Love: Brendee's Irish Pub
Best Doughnuts: The Fractured Prune Doughnuts
Best Farmers’ Market: Central Market
Best Fine Dining Restaurant: Checker's Bistro
Best Food Truck: Baron Von Schwein
Best Frozen Yogurt: Berries Frozen Yogurt
Best Grocery Store: Stauffers of Kissel Hill
Best Happy Hour Spot: Annie Bailey's
Best Hometown Barbecue Joint: Harvey's BBQ
Best Ice Cream Shop: Carmen and David's Creamery
Best Indian Restaurant: Himalayan Curry and Grill
Best Italian Restaurant: Ciro's Italian Bistro
Best Mexican Restaurant: El Serrano Restaurante
Best Neighborhood Bar: Brendee's Irish Pub
Best Outdoor Bar: Tobias S. Frogg Restaurant Bar and Patio
Best Outdoor Dining: Tobias S. Frogg Restaurant Bar and Patio
Best Pizza: Alley Kat
Best Specialty Cake Bakery: Scratch
Best Sushi: Wasabi Japanese Restaurant
Best Winery: The Vineyard at Grandview
Best Wings: American Bar and Grill

Family Health

Best Cancer Treatment Center: Lancaster General Health, Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute
Best Cosmetic Dentistry Practice: Smilebuilderz
Best Cosmetic Enhancement Center: Wendell L. Funk, MD
Best Fitness Center: Universal Athletic Club
Best Hospital: Lancaster General Health, Lancaster General Hospital
Best Pediatric Practice: Lancaster General Health, Roseville Pediatrics
Best Place to Have a Baby: Lancaster General Health, Women & Babies Hospital
Best Veterinary Clinic: Neffsville Veterinary Clinic
Best Yoga Studio: Evolution Power Yoga

Home and Garden

Best Appliance Dealer: Martin Appliance
Best Audio/Video Expert: WeeBee Audio/Video
Best Carpeting/Flooring Expert: Martin's Flooring
Best Furniture Store: Interiors Furniture and Design
Best Heating and Cooling Specialist: Haller Enterprises
Best Home Remodeler: DM Stokes Home Renovations
Best Interior Designer: AK Interiors
Best Kitchen and Bath Designer: Choice Windows, Doors & More, Inc.
Best Landscape Designer: Jim's Landscaping
Best Lighting Store: Yale Lighting Concepts and Design
Best New Home Builder: Costello Builders
Best Outdoor Furniture Store: Penn Stone
Best Painting and Wallpaper Professionals: Two Dudes Painting Co.
Best Place to Buy Plants: Stauffers of Kissel Hill
Best Plumber: Haller Enterprises
Best Pool and Spa Experts: Crystal Pools, Inc.
Best Senior Living Community: Willow Valley Communities

Professional Services

Best Banking Institution: Fulton Bank
Best Car Dealership: Jones Auto Group
Best Credit Union: Members 1st Federal Credit Union
Best Law Firm: Barley Snyder
Best Realtor: LMS Commerical Real Estate
Best Art Gallery: Sunshine Art+Design
Best Charity Event: Extraordinary Give, Lancaster County Community Foundation
Best DJ: DJ Freez
Best Fair or Festival: Ephrata Fair
Best Family Fun Destination: Hersheypark
Best Golf Course: Lancaster Country Club
Best Local TV Station: WGAL 8
Best Local TV Personality: Meredith Jorgensen, WGAL 8
Best Movie Theater: Penn Cinema
Best Performing Arts Center: Fulton Theatre
Best Party Planner: Planned Perfection
Best Radio Station: WJTL, 90.3
Best Venue for a Big Bash: The Farm at Eagles Ridge


Best Bridal Boutique: In White
Best Children’s Clothing Boutique: Bella Boo
Best Consignment Shop: Déjà Vu Consignment Boutique
Best Men’s Clothing Boutique: TMB Clothing
Best Shopping Outlets: Tanger Outlets Lancaster
Best Tailor: Fine Tailoring by Harry
Best Women’s Clothing Boutique:TMB Clothing

Little Luxuries

Best B&B/Inn for a Romantic Getaway: The Inn at Leola Village
Best Barbershop: The Black Comb
Best Florist: Petals With Style
Best Gift Shop: Ten Thousand Villages
Best Hotel: Lancaster Arts Hotel
Best Jeweler: Brent L. Miller Jewelers
Best Makeup Artist: Lionel Adriano, Luxe
Best Photographer: Jeremy Hess Photographers
Best Salon: Luxe
Best Spa: Luxe

Meet Susquehanna Vaslley's Select Lawyers
Edit Module