By Jen Merrill; Photography by Jadrian Klinger
Well, it’s official. Cindy Hess is taking over East Chocolate Avenue.
Hess has owned the renowned Hershey Pantry since 1990. Then there’s Events, Etc., the catering company she opened in 2002 right across the street. They cater events both in-house and otherwise.
And don’t forget Desserts, Etc., the year-old bakery and coffee shop she owns just a stone’s throw up the street that features the delicious baked goods made famous by The Hershey Pantry.
“Branching out keeps things interesting. It just seemed like the next step. We kind of outgrew this building,” says Hess of The Hershey Pantry location. “We’ve got a large following with whole pies and whole cakes. Customers would pick up here, and since we are so busy, we needed to have a site like a bakery to expand on that.”
Hess’s growing empire proves that she knows what she’s doing, but she’s humble about her success and insists on giving credit where credit is due. “I’m really proud of my employees. They work hard,” says Hess. “I do think I know where to put people in the right management positions. It’s important.”
Hess describes her flagship business, The Hershey Pantry, as serving “upscale family-style fare,” and their fall menu is a great example of this. Running through Thanksgiving – at which point they’ll trade off into their winter menu – the fall menu features a unique selection of harvest-inspired creations.
The pumpkin and wild mushroom quesadilla starts off your meal just right with pepper jack and ricotta cheeses, pumpkin and mushrooms grilled in a honey wheat tortilla. It’s topped with a drizzle of sour cream, some spring onions and a sprinkle of sea salt. The braised pork shank entrée comes complete with apple, fennel, roasted Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.
And don’t forget about their award-winning breakfast. Even that menu gets some autumn flair this time of year, including the addition of pumpkin-stuffed French toast and pumpkin cream baked oatmeal.
Hess has worked in the food industry since high school, and when asked why she’s stuck with it all these years, she notes an obsession that’s developed and shaped her over the course of decades.
“My life is consumed with food because I love it,” gushes Hess. “Whether it’s the magazine I purchase or the TV channel I choose, it’s all based around food.”
The Hershey Pantry is open Monday through Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Take-out is available, and they do not accept reservations. Visit hersheypantry.com or call (717) 533-7505 for more information. Desserts, Etc. is open daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Events, Etc.’s hours vary depending on catering events.