Griddled with memories

By on October 3, 2018
Five employees of the Pancake Farm, who combined, have over 100 years of service to the beloved restaurant. (Top row, left to right) Patty Pletz (20 years), Connie Donmoyer (28 years), Katie Seibel (25 years). (Bottom l-r) owners Kathy Styer (36 years), Beth Buchter (36 years). Photo by Cory Van Brookhoven

Five employees of the Pancake Farm, who combined, have over 100 years of service to the beloved restaurant. (Top row, left to right) Patty Pletz (20 years), Connie Donmoyer (28 years), Katie Seibel (25 years). (Bottom l-r) owners Kathy Styer (36 years), Beth Buchter (36 years). Photo by Cory Van Brookhoven

Longtime owners of The Pancake Farm to close iconic business Dec 1.

It’s the end of an era.

After nearly four decades, the Pancake Farm, an iconic eatery in Ephrata which has served customers for generations, will be closing its doors in early December.

The owners, Kathy Styer and Beth Buchter, cite retirement and the desire to enjoy more free time as the reasons for their decision.

Styer would be going into her 37th year of ownership next year. During the early days of her ownership she leased the building, but in 1992, the pair purchased the property.

“I used to visit Ephrata to shop or come to the Fair,” Styer said. “I was working at the Quality Inn, and a gentlemen there approached me about this opportunity.”

“I always loved cooking,” she added. “I began when I was 15 working at hotels. I worked with some great chefs, and was also employed at a Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. I really learned a lot.”

After much consideration, she took a leap of faith, and purchased The Pancake Farm from the previous owners, the Mohler family. Luckily, nearly everything was still in place, and she had the luxury to re-open the next day, leasing the property.

At 26 years old, this was quite a risk for me to take,” said Styer. “But I jumped in head first, and didn’t look back.”

Days off were rare.

“I was working seven days a week for the first year that I was here,” she added.

Then, in 1992, Styer and Buchter had a chance to purchase the property. But with money tight, they knew that the future of the business was in jeopardy. But a miracle would make everything right, and ensure the future of the Pancake Farm­several customers decided to loan the pair the needed funds in order to purchase the property.

That’s just one example of the loyalty guests would show them over the years, and something the owners never took for granted.

“There are several customers that have been here since we have,” Styer joked. “Some even longer who patronized the restaurant years before our ownership.”

“We’ve made this decision, and knew it was going to be a hard one, Styer said. “We did it when the opportunity presented itself. Alot of our waitresses and employees are around our age, and it was all something we’ve talked about. We thought maybe it was time.

Aside from their signature pancakes, the restaurant is known for its chocolate chip cookies, home fries, and chipped beef.

“We make everything as we go,” said Buchter. We’re here from when we open the doors til we close each day. All of the food is made from scratch.”

If the owners have their way, the restaurant will continue, and with minimal changes.

“Not one of our employees decided to leave when they heard the news,” said Styer. “They said they’ll stay until the end,” added Buchter. “We’ve even told several that we we’d help them find new jobs.”

Despite their upcoming retirement, business is fantastic as ever.

“We have customers who come in for breakfast, and then come back in later for lunch,” said Buchter.

The official last day of the Pancake Farm at least for now is Dec. 1. This date was chosen because of gift certificates that were typically sold during that month.

Leo’s Helping Paws, a charitable animal assistance organization first started inside the restaurant by the owners, will also keep them busy after retiring.

“We give financial aid to rescues. People apply for a grant, our board reviews it, and then when once it’s approved, we help them with their bills.” Over the two decades, hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal treatments was raised.

Through the years and via alot of sacrifice and perseverance, the pair worked very hard to always put the customer first.

We kept our prices very low,” Styer said. “We’ll come in at 5 a.m. and start cooking. We have one other person who helps us over lunch, and everything is made to order. Even special requests were never a problem.”

Bookwork is done at home in the evening; and often times, ordering is done on their days off­Sundays.

So what’s next for the soon-to-be former owners? if you ask them, life will continue to be on the sunny side up.

“Our non-profit will keep us very busy,” Styer said.

“On the last day, all the perishable items will be taken home by our employees,” she added. If the owners have their way, a similar restaurant, perhaps even by the name of The Pancake Farm, will be in the cards for the Ephrata landmark.

So far, no serious offers has been presented to the owners for consideration. And as the end approaches, emotions are high.

“At this point, we have no idea what will happen to this place,” Buchter said. We still want to stay connected to the Ephrata community. We’ve made alot of friends here.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423.

2 Comments

  1. Christos Kaltsas

    July 11, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I could be very interested in this property and keep as a Breakfast/lunch establishment. Please get back to me. I would sincerely appreciate it. Thank you and congratulations on your retirement.

  2. Christos Kaltsas

    July 11, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Interested parties for Pancake Farm

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