Best of Harrisburg 2014

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

Photography by Donovan Roberts Witmer

Reader Favorites:

Best Bar Food, Burger, Casual Date Spot, Happy Hour Spot, Neighborhood Bar and Wings: Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar

Talk about a Central Pennsylvania success story! Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar, the six-category winner of our Best of Harrisburg awards, was started a short six years ago by business partners Gary Huether Jr. and Mike Murphy. Huether, then only 27 years old, noticed a void in the market for sports bars that offered more than just a big-screen TV. Huether’s goal from the very beginning was to provide “better bar food and better draft offerings,” he says, and by the looks of it, he has succeeded…tremendously. Arooga’s takes pride in their products and their community, supporting local agriculture by sourcing all Pennsylvania produce and gaining the title of a PA Preferred business. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, from their 40 varieties of award-winning chicken wings (Huether’s favorite is the Almost Everything, a combination of Hot, BBQ, Ragin Cajun and Garlic Herb) right down to their margaritas, which use real Florida lemons and limes. Each of their eight locations in the Susquehanna Valley is certified green, too, eliminating the use of Styrofoam, conserving energy and taking other good-for-the-environment measures. And soon, thanks to winning a contest called America’s Next Top Restaurant Franchise, the Arooga’s family of restaurants will be expanding to locations throughout the nation, sharing this booming local business with the rest of the US. - H.W.

Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar | Locations in Camp Hill, Hanover, Harrisburg, Hummelstown, Mechanicsburg, Shippensburg and York |

Best Jeweler: Mountz Jewelers

Need some glitz? For some of the most gorgeous jewelry you’ll find in Central Pennsylvania, head to Mountz Jewelers. Mountz is a family-owned and
-operated jeweler, co-owned by siblings Ronald Leitzel and Tonia Leitzel Ulsh, and the company employs a highly qualified staff who provide customers with the stellar service that has become their trademark. They boast the largest selection of engagement rings in the Susquehanna Valley as well as many of the brands that create today’s fashionable looks, including Alex and Ani, Pandora, John Hardy, Ippolita and Heather Moore. Mountz recognizes the high demand for customization when purchasing jewelry and is proud to give customers the option to select their own loose diamond to fit a designer setting, allowing buyers to create the ring of their dreams. Mountz is also known for its community outreach, donating to healthcare and quality of life organizations to thank its community for over 35 years of dedication. If you aren’t convinced, perhaps the glittering photos of some of Mountz’s rings will prove that its quality more than matches the title it has earned.  -M.M.

Mountz Jewelers | Carlisle, Camp Hill and Harrisburg locations |

Best Cupcake Shop: The Couture Cakery Cupcake Bar

When Jasmine Clouser looks at a cake, she doesn’t just see a delicious dessert. Because of her background in design, she also sees an artist’s canvas, a place of creative expression. Clouser’s superb artistry, as well as her heart for making people smile, are the qualities that earned The Couture Cakery Cupcake Bar the title of the Best Cupcake Shop in the Harrisburg area. Clouser uses only the highest quality ingredients to create her delicious delicacies, some of the most popular of which are dark chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and spice cake with caramel buttercream frosting. Jasmine’s cakes have won many prestigious awards including Best of The Knot and Bride’s Choice from Wedding Wire, and her cupcakes are just as high-quality and attentive to detail as her cakes. And, if baking is something you like to do yourself, Clouser will be offering decorating classes this fall and winter. For more information about Clouser’s cakes and her availability, follow her on Facebook, Twitter or her blog to get the full sweet scoop. -M.M.

The Couture Cakery Cupcake Bar | 829 State St., Lemoyne |  | 717-991-3885

Best Movie Theater: West Shore Theatre

During an age where the average-sized family’s trip to the movie theater is nearly as expensive as a small vacation (alright, that might be a slight exaggeration,) small second-run theatres are the American filmgoer’s saving grace. West Shore Theatre, a historical gem of downtown New Cumberland, has been showing films since it was built in 1939. Fred Bollen, who has been operating the theater for the past 27 years, has kept the prices low, not just for tickets but for cinema snacks as well. Total cost for a Saturday matinee and small popcorn? A meager $4.75. And most recently, the theater has undergone an extensive digital upgrade, complete with a new 4K projector (that’s double high definition, in case you were wondering) and flat white screen for picture quality that matches the mega-cinemas. The theater normally has two showtimes every night, plus matinees on Saturday and Sunday, so come for a flick, and take your seat among the loyal patrons of this local favorite. -H.W.

West Shore Theatre | 317 Bridge St., New Cumberland | 717-774-7160

Best Charity Event: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man & Woman of the Year

If you haven’t already heard the buzz about this charity event, the Man & Woman of the Year is a signature 10-week campaign to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, done by every chapter across the country. This year, Harrisburg’s event ran from January 30 to April 10, and out of the thirteen community leaders and philanthropists, the winners of the campaign were Donald L. Carter Jr. and Kathy McCauslin-Cadieux, who raised the most funds to gain the titles of Man & Woman of the Year. 2014 marked a particularly successful run of the campaign, and the group’s total amount raised, $406,723, was announced at their fantastic grand finale event. The campaign is so successful because it encourages community leaders to reach out and share their personal stories to raise funds, and for this reason, it is extremely meaningful to participants. What does it all accomplish? The money raised will be used to conduct research that impacts the lives of blood cancer patients and to improve the quality of life of both patients and survivors. -M.M.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Central Pennsylvania Chapter | 2405 Park Drive, Suite 100, Harrisburg | | 717-652-6520

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Things


Korean cuisine fans, rejoice! Korealicious, a snug BYOB eatery in Lemoyne’s State Street Plaza, opened its doors just under a year ago, satisfying locals’ cravings for this lesser-known Asian fare. After working in the restaurant industry since 1997, Hakjoon and Jane Kim decided to share the delicacies of their homeland with Harrisburg residents, and we couldn’t be more thankful. Hakjoon says his wife’s talent in the kitchen was widely recognized by friends and relatives, so they opened Korealicious to share her family recipes with the community. “She’s the chef,” Hakjoon says with a laugh, “I’m just the help.” The restaurant has traditional dishes, such as bulgogi (grilled, marinated beef with rice) and bi-bim-bop (a hot bowl filled with white rice, sautéed vegetables, chili pepper paste, fried egg and sliced beef, given a rave review by Style staff). It also offers a few fusion dishes, like Korean Tacos with standard taco fixings like lettuce, tomato, cheese and onions, plus a few unconventional fillings: galbi (grilled, marinated short ribs), bulgogi, spicy chicken or marinated tofu. One of the best things about Korealicious, however, is the kimchi (pickled vegetables made fresh by Jane each day), second only to the pleasant disposition of this business’ endearing owners. -H.W.

Korealicious | 829 State Street, Lemoyne | | 717-317-9015

The Civic Club of Harrisburg

If you’ve ever taken a lazy afternoon stroll along Front Street in downtown Harrisburg, you may have wandered through the picturesque gardens of The Civic Club of Harrisburg. As gorgeous as the property is, including its stately Tudor-style stone mansion, the organization it represents and the services they provide the Harrisburg community are of a far greater value. In addition to creating a breathtaking venue for weddings, The Civic Club also allows more than 42 non-profit organizations to use the building to hold meetings, and they routinely open their grand ballroom to the public for free lectures and events. These good deeds are nothing new for the Civic Club. In fact, the building (then a home) was gifted to the club in 1914 by Virginia Hammond Fleming, widow of William Reynolds Fleming, builder of the neighboring “Waterworks” pumping station, because of her respect for their cause. Since the club’s initiation 116 years ago, the members have accomplished feats you may not have heard about, but have surely enjoyed, like establishing the popular Riverfront Park. If you’d like to take a peek inside this palatial building, keep on the lookout for upcoming events or contact them for information on how to become a member or support The Civic Club. -H.W.

The Civic Club of Harrisburg | 612 N. Front St., Harrisburg | | 717-234-6736

The Hershey Story Museum

For those of you who don’t already know, there’s much more to Milton S. Hershey’s legacy than chocolate bars and roller coasters. At The Hershey Story Museum, located in the heart of downtown Hershey, visitors can learn all about the founder of The Hershey Company, from his trials and triumphs to his philanthropic endeavors and ever-present optimism. The museum takes you through a journey of Hershey’s life, starting at his humble beginnings on a small farm in Pennsylvania and passing through several failed business attempts before recounting the story of overwhelming success we know today. The Hershey Story tells the tale of a man who had high hopes for humanity, a man who wished to create an idyllic town for his employees with comfortable homes, quality schools and extensive cultural opportunities. In fact, the museum’s newest exhibit, Chocolate Workers Wanted, allows guests to experience what the life of a chocolate worker was like inside the famous Hershey chocolate factory. Not only does the museum share Hershey’s rich history with its guests, it also introduces them to his popular products through interactive classes and exhibits. Make sure to stop by Café Zooka for the Countries of Origin Chocolate Tasting, which allows you to taste the differences between chocolates sourced from around the world. -H.W.

The Hershey Story Museum | 63 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey | | 717-534-3439

Herby’s El Mexicano

Mexican food fans in the know go to Herby’s El Mexicano. Perched above the city of Harrisburg in Bressler, this authentic south-of-the-border restaurant has been a community staple for almost 20 years. According to owner Maria Teresa Marroquin, the restaurant was created out of the overwhelming response to her first business, a Mexican grocery and restaurant on Second Street in Harrisburg. To satisfy her customers’ cravings for her delicious dishes, she moved to the larger location and named it in honor of her husband Urbano, lovingly nicknamed “Herby, El Mexicano.” When you walk in the doors of the restaurant, past cacti and Mexican knick-knacks, brightly colored stucco walls and windows with intricate wrought-iron details surround you. Hand-painted murals of Mexican scenes welcome you into the space. The ambiance is certainly not all that Herby’s has to offer, however. Marroquin’s meals are packed with all the flavor of her original family recipes. Take her tacos, for example. Corn tortillas are filled with carnitas (slow-cooked, very tender pork), al pastor (rotisserie-cooked, shaved pork) or thin-sliced, grilled steak, then topped simply with cilantro, onions and hot sauce. We highly recommend the homemade horchata, too. -H.W.

Herby’s El Mexicano | 720 Main St., Harrisburg | | 717-939-0624

Torchbearer Sauces

If you have a taste for adventure, then the crazy concoctions of Torchbearer Sauces may be just the thing you’re looking for. Three friends started the company quite on accident when they created a delicious habanero preserve with some peppers they didn’t want to waste, and as they say, the rest is history. After winning three national awards with their creation at Louisiana’s Cajun Hot Sauce Festival, their business took off and has expanded to include sauces such as The Rapture and Zombie Apocalypse. Their most popular flavors, Oh My Garlic!, Horseradish Sauce, Chipotle Barbeque and Tarnation Sauce, are sure to spice up any meal. They also offer traditional flavors and salsas, and have created an interesting dessert for only the most daring called the habanero cheesecake. Torchbearer Sauces is hoping to expand to a larger facility and bring in more employees in the near future, but they always plan on using only the highest quality ingredients without any fillers, and they will continue to make all of their sauces themselves. So grab a bottle of Torchbearer’s Ultimate Annihilation and test the tolerance of your taste buds. -M.M.

Torchbearer Sauces | | 717-697-3568

“Best of Harrisburg” 2014 Winners:

Food and Drink

Best Asian Restaurant: Chalit's Thai Bistro
Best Bar Food: Arooga’s
Best Brewery: Troegs Brewing Company
Best Brunch: The Hotel Hershey
Best Burger: Arooga’s
Best Business Lunch Spot: Café Fresco
Best Candy Shop: Zimmerman's Nuts and Candies
Best Casual Date Spot: Arooga’s
Best Caterer: The JDK Group
Best Cheesesteak: Philadelphia Steaks and Hoagies
Best Cocktails: Café Fresco
Best Coffee Shop: Cornerstone Coffeehouse
Best Craft Beer Spot: Troegs Brewing Company
Best Cupcake Shop: The Couture Cakery
Best Diner: Capitol Diner
Best Dive Bar You Hate to Love: The Glass Lounge
Best Doughnuts: Maple Donuts
Best Farmers’ Market: West Shore Farmers' Market
Best Fine Dining Restaurant: Char's Tracy Mansion
Best Food Truck: MAD Sandwiches
Best Frozen Yogurt: Bamboo Frozen Yogurt Café
Best Grocery Store: Giant Food Stores
Best Happy Hour Spot: Arooga's
Best Hometown Barbecue Joint: Smoke BBQ
Best Ice Cream Shop: 3B Ice Cream
Best Indian Restaurant: Passage to India
Best Italian Restaurant: Gabriella
Best Mexican Restaurant: El Sol Mexican Restaurant
Best Neighborhood Bar: Arooga’s
Best Outdoor Bar: Dukes Riverside Bar & Grille
Best Outdoor Dining Spot: Dukes Riverside Bar & Grille
Best Pizza: The Pizza Grille
Best Specialty Cake Bakery: The Pennsylvania Bakery
Best Sushi: Miso Sushi and Grill
Best Winery: Nissley Vineyard and Winery Estate
Best Wings: Arooga's

Family Health

Best Cancer Treatment Center: Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Best Cosmetic Dentistry Office: Fields Family Dentistry
Best Cosmetic Enhancement Center: Stratis Gayner Plastic Surgery
Best Fitness Center: Momentum Female
Fitness & Nutrition Best Hospital: PinnacleHealth Harrisburg Hospital
Best Pediatric Practice: JDC Pediatrics
Best Place to Have a Baby: PinnacleHealth Harrisburg Hospital
Best Veterinary Clinic: Good Hope Animal Hospital
Best Yoga Studio: Just Plain Yoga

Home and Garden

Best Appliance Dealer: L.H. Brubaker Appliances
Best Audio/Video Expert: HiDef Lifestyle
Best Carpeting and Flooring Expert: Martin's Flooring
Best Furniture Store: Interiors Furniture and Design
Best Heating and Cooling Specialist: H.B. McClure Company
Best Home Remodeler: Farinelli Construction Inc.
Best Interior Designer: Interiors Furniture and Design, Tim Weishaar
Best Kitchen and Bath Designer: Inspirations Bath & Kitchen Studio by Hajoca, Darren Trautman
Best Landscape Designer: Mechanicsburg Landscaping and Outdoor Living
Best Lighting Store: Yale Lighting Concepts and Design
Best New Home Builder: Farinelli Construction Inc.
Best Outdoor Furniture Store: Stauffers of Kissel Hill
Best Place to Buy Plants: Stauffers of Kissel Hill
Best Plumber: Central Penn Plumbing Services, Inc.
Best Pool and Spa Experts: Crystal Pools, Inc.
Best senior living Community: Messiah Lifeways

Professional Services

Best Banking Institution: Metro Bank
Best Car Dealership: Bobby Rahal Automotive Group
Best Credit Union: PSECU
Best Law Firm: Daley, Zucker, Meilton & Miner, LLC
Best Realtor: Joy Daniels Real Estate Group Entertainment
Best Art Gallery: Brath and Hughes Fine Art, LLC
Best Charity Event: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year
Best DJ: Klock Entertainment
Best Fair or Festival: Kipona Festival
Best Family Fun Destination: Hersheypark
Best Golf Course: Armitage Golf Club
Best Local TV Station: WHTM abc27
Best Local TV Personality: Al Gnoza, WHTM abc27
Best Movie Theater: West Shore Theatre
Best Performing Arts Center: Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
Best Party Planner: The JDK Group
Best Radio Station: WNNK-FM, Wink 104
Best Venue for a Big Bash: The Hotel Hershey


Best Bridal Boutique: Taylored For You
Best Children’s Clothing Boutique: Baby Bug & Me
Best Consignment Shop: Hello Gorgeous Consignment Boutique
Best Shopping Outlets: Tanger Outlets, Lancaster
Best Tailor: Leaf of Eve
Best Women’s Clothing Boutique: The Plum

Little Luxuries

Best B&B/Inn for a Romantic Getaway: Pleasant View Farm Bed and Breakfast Inn
Best Barbershop: Franklyn Men, Master Barbers
Best Florist: Royer's Flowers & Gifts
Best Gift Shop: Rhoads Pharmacy
Best Hotel: The Hotel Hershey
Best Jeweler: Mountz Jewelers
Best Makeup Artist: Carmina Cristina
Best Photographer: Addie Eshelman Photography
Best Salon: Franklyn Studio
Best Spa: The Spa at The Hotel Hershey

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