Epiphany Shay, of Jonestown, wouldn’t let a rainy Sunday at the Sunset Flea Market in North Lebanon Township dampen her hopes. After all, her bread stand at the market had been going so well as her first retail endeavor. 

It rained so much that day that Shay and only one other vendor showed up. It got her to thinking about finding a more permanent site that would not require setting up and tearing down each Sunday from October to December.

That was in 2022. By March of 2023, she had set up shop in the Lebanon Farmers Market.

Shay’s Bakery in the Lebanon Farmers Market. (Fran Odyniec)

“The Farmers Market is close to home,” she says in her typically upbeat fashion. “I wanted to make it a home for the bakery. It was an opportunity to make products three days a week.”

With a lot of help from Epiphany’s mother Julie, father Richard, brother Corey, and husband Derek, Shay’s Bakery took shape on the floor of the market as a sole proprietorship. Her family had been in real estate renovating and reselling properties, a background that helped transform the market space into a bakery.

Shay’s Bakery in the Lebanon Farmers Market. (Fran Odyniec)

Little did they know at the time that they weren’t done yet. A second location was to be in the works in 2024. But to be a successful entrepreneur takes more than a hope and a prayer, something Epiphany realized early on.

One year before setting up at the Sunset Flea Market she was testing on family and friends the recipes she had researched from various sources … with the proviso that they give her fair and honest feedback. It helped a bit that her mother is both a baking resource and business mentor.

“I wanted the truest and most genuine recipes of what breads were meant to be in texture and content,” she says of established historical baking standards she had found. “And I only chose people who I know would give me positive as well as negative feedback.”

The next step was the flea market, where her breads continued to sell out through the October to December run.

The daily menu board at Shay’s Bakery in the Lebanon Farmers Market. (Fran Odyniec)

Along the way this aspiring entrepreneur noticed that something was missing in Bologna Burg. “There had not been a bakery in Lebanon in more than 30 years,” Epiphany says. “I knew of bakeries in the surrounding area but there were no bread bakeries until you got to Lancaster.”

She admits that in the beginning she did not target a specific audience for Shay’s. “The customer base was 75 percent of the 60+ demographic,” she admits. “Now we’re attracting kids with our soft ice cream and pizza, late teens, people in their early 20s. We’re appealing to our entire age group.”

Shay’s breads come in three sizes with no preservatives. What’s available on a particular day is posted on a blackboard above the main counter. Typical offerings are Italian, French, sourdough, 3-cheese Italian, and rosemary. Other savory selections often include: raisin cinnamon swirl, chocolate chip sourdough, and a fascinating Bosc pear bread with an actual Bosc pear baked inside the loaf. (The pear bread is from her mother’s recipe.)

Epiphany Shay, the sole proprietor of Shay’s Bakery, at work rolling dough for baking into loaves of bread. (Fran Odyniec)

In their 2023 opening at the farmers market over St. Patrick’s weekend, Epiphany and “company” were pleasantly shocked. 

“We sold out every day, and this with no advertising,” she reports. However, she utilizes a Facebook page for the bakery. “We were like, ‘Whoa!’”

Alethia Hines, of Lebanon, comes to Shay’s every week. For her it’s a bit of nostalgia accented by the lure of fresh bread. When she was in the U.S. Army, she lived in Germany for six years and easily recognizes the smell of fresh-baked bread.

“This is the best thing that ever happened,” Hines says of Shay’s. “Fresh bread. I look for fresh bread that has quality and authenticity, and I look forward to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (market days in Lebanon).

Alethia Hines, of Lebanon, is a frequent customer of Shay’s in the Lebanon Farmers Market. (Fran Odyniec)

“… not by bread alone.”

As it came to pass, one day Epiphany’s mom Julie, whom she calls her bonafide assistant and unofficial partner, offered a review of the bakery’s offerings, “There is no pizza here. How about we try a French bread pizza.”

She says that her and her mother’s brains work differently. “I like baking,” Epiphany explains. “Mom likes making the business work.”

Answering a perceived taste preference especially in the teen market, Epiphany and Julie literally rolled up their sleeves and French bread pizza went from an idea to the menu board.

“We use our own bread because we do bread,” Epiphany states, adding that Shay’s pizza is made from five ingredients that “make smiles.”

Pizza — Shay’s style

A loaf of French bread is sliced down the middle. Homemade sauce is added and topped off with a blend of provolone and mozzarella cheeses with pepperoni as an option. The tasty combination of ingredients is then placed into the in-stand electric confection oven to bake, Epiphany advising a customer at the Farmer’s Market, “Come back in 10 minutes.”

Riding the momentum, Epiphany and her mom went to work on homemade soups “from scratch,” she emphasizes. Just like the pizza, Shay’s soups are made in-stand and can be ordered to go or eat in.

The soup lineup on a rotating basis includes: loaded tomato soup (from her mom’s recipe), chicken noodle, ham and bean rivel, cheeseburger soup, corn chowder, potato leek and carrots, no-meat vegetable, butternut squash, and creamy parmesan Italian sausage. Each order of soup is accompanied by bread; not a slice of bread but a real hunk of bread.

Epiphany reports that the loaded tomato soup is one of the bakery’s top movers, which she proudly says, “You can’t get anywhere else.” However, butternut squash is reserved for the fall and creamy cauliflower potato for the spring. 

But heating the kettle doesn’t stop there. Julie’s own chili has also made its way onto the menu with two versions: Mom’s mild chili and white chicken chili.

Keeping a pulse on the younger demographic, a larger soft ice cream machine was put into the mix. Flavor choices are available in three sizes: vanilla, chocolate, and a combination vanilla/chocolate swirl. Milk shakes and floats round out the dairy portion of the menu.

“The results exceeded my business plan and expectations,” says Epiphany. “I am happily overwhelmed. You know you’re doing a good thing when you sell out [at the end of the day]. I did not expect this to take off like it has.”

A faith-based person, she says, “Prayer goes up, blessings come down.”

Like bread, opportunity also rises

Epiphany and her family have been busier than ever over the last year establishing Shay’s Bakery as a fixture in the farmers market. Somewhat unbeknownst to Epiphany, a restaurant space became available in Palmyra. The manager and the owner of A Taste of Sicily, an Italian Restaurant at the corner of East Main and South Lincoln, decided to close the eatery about eight months ago.

Mike Mangano owns the building where his mother Silvana ran A Taste of Sicily for five years. “At 72 years of age, mom was getting tired of the business,” says Mangano. “We did a tremendous amount of business, but I did not want to turn into an Italian café again. So I put it out on Facebook that the space was available, an iconic building in a great location.”

Epiphany had been following A Taste of Sicily via Facebook and grew to know the Mangano family. She saw Mangano’s notice about the closing of the restaurant.

“I was not really looking for a second location, and I want to stay in Lebanon at the farmers market,” Epiphany admits. “Mike indicated that given the right person, he would be willing to rent the building. You could say that the opportunity found us.”

As Mangano says, “One thing led to another.”

According to Epiphany, after taste-testing some of Shay’s products, Mangano thought that the bakery would be a good thing for Palmyra and a tasty complement to his business, Gumbas, in the Fresh Market at Hershey Towne Square that offers Gumbas brand pastas, ravioli, sauces, and salsa, “all authentic and made from scratch,” he adds.

It should come as no surprise that Shay’s now wholesales Italian, French, and sourdough breads to the Gumbas location in Hershey. By the same token, there is also a rack of Gumbas products at Shay’s in Palmyra. 

“Her breads are awesome,” says Mangano, adding they complement his company’s line of Italian specialties. “They’re a natural that work perfectly for people having dinner.”

He feels that the business relationship between Gumbas and Shay’s is a strong pairing. 

“The way I see it, it’s a perfect synergy that helps each other,” he says. “It’s not one of competition but rather one of gratitude. It works.”

Help kneaded 

Epiphany realized a full-time staff was needed, especially when in an average week of baking for Lebanon, Palmyra, and Hershey, she turns out 760 loaves of bread. 

Another indicator of expanded market reach is how Shay’s Facebook page followers have increased.


“We had 230 followers pre-Palmyra,” Epiphany says. “During our soft opening, that number went up to 700. Now we’re at 1,475.”

With all this in mind she says unhesitatingly, “I’m looking for employees who love baking and are good at making bread.”

She recently brought on Aliyah Miller, of North Annville, who met the job requirements and quickly added the Shay’s way to her baking skills.  Miller rotates between Lebanon and Palmyra. Epiphany’s family also pitches in at both locations.

“Everyone has a specific duty,” Epiphany says from construction to making soups to her father’s repair skills and to waiting on customers. To assure Shay’s quality standards, she splits her time between the two locations.

Oh la-la

Epiphany wants to nurture a French café/bakery vibe at Shay’s in Palmyra. “It’s cozy and small,” she says of the space. “There’s seating inside, and outside in the warmer weather. So, it’s a style that’s cozy and café.”

As in Lebanon, customers can watch Epiphany and Miller knead the dough, shape it into loaves, then place them into a gas pizza stone oven, a “left-over” from A Taste of Sicily. The finished product goes into a multi-level loaf display rack on the main counter.

In answer to the café part of the vibe, coffee drinks are available and made just behind the counter. Looking down on the tables are framed posters of Frank Sinatra and James Dean.

Mario DeNola Torre, of Annville, a retired school district employee, was a first-time customer during the bakery’s soft opening last month. The word bakery on the temporary blinking sign out front drew him and Jack “Long John” McNamara, of Annville, through the front door.

“There aren’t that many bakeries around,” DeNola Torre says over sips of coffee and a doughnut. “I’m looking for good, hard crusted bread that goes with soup.”

He added that there is nothing like walking in and “the smell of bread baking that produces a level of bread you can’t get at a grocery store.”

According to McNamara, a retired Maryland social worker, Shay’s offers a definitely comfortable and inviting ambiance. 

“When you walk in there is no question that the product is right there and made right there,” he says, enjoying a latte and a doughnut.

Yes, Shay’s offers doughnuts, long johns, and macarons.

Macaron or macaroon?

There’s a difference between the macarons at Shay’s and the more popular macaroons. Artificial dyes are not used in making macarons. The macarons at Shay’s are the real deal imported from Paris with a distinct almond flavor because they are made with peeled almonds made into flour and whipped egg whites and come in food colors that correspond to their flavor, e.g. green for lime. 

Macaroons are made of shredded coconut stirred into whipped egg whites and sugars, thus their coconut flavor. Macarons are French sandwich cookies; macaroons are dollops of coconut-flavored European cookies baked to a golden brown.

Lena Knapp, an office administrator for an Edward Jones office in Hershey, has followed Shay’s on Facebook and the page’s reviews.

Lena Knapp, an office administrator for an Edward Jones office in Hershey, in the process of deciding on which bread to buy as Epiphany Shay looks on at the Shay’s Bakery in Palmyra. (Fran Odyniec)

“Shay’s has a good reputation,” says Knapp, “and Epiphany is a wonderful person. Shay’s is a great add to Palmyra. It’s something we didn’t have here: fresh bread.”

Sandra Leib, of Annville, loves the loaded tomato soup.

“It’s A-plus,” says Leib on a recent visit to Shay’s Palmyra. “It’s home made. You can’t get that anywhere else. I got more yesterday.”

Feeding off comments of that nature is motivation for Epiphany.

“Hearing how my stuff makes customers happy,” she says, “that’s my driving force.”

As the legendary American chef James Beard once said, “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all food; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of all feasts.”

Just ask Epiphany Shay.

If you go…

Shay’s Bakery at Lebanon Farmers Market: Thursday & Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; pre-orders/take out, 717-389-5176.

Shay’s Bakery at 132 E. Main St., Palmyra: noon-6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; noon-4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday & Monday; pre-orders/take out, 717-970-3230. 

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