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    Milestones: Our Stories of Origin

    Small business are the heart and soul of Lancaster City. We salute them for the courage, strength, and innovation that not only saw them through last year, but has made Lancaster County a model for tenacity and ingenuity.

     

    Below are 22 inspiring stories of heart and hard-won success. They are both heroes and stewards, and they make our city what it is. Whether their time in the city has spanned decades or just a few years, their stories of origin remind us of our history and make us stronger as we look to the future and continue to love local.

    The former Kuhn's Hall was dedicated to Water Street Mission in the 1960s

     

    Started: 1905
    In 1905, Dr. Ezra Sieber realized there was a gap in Lancaster. He wanted to create a place to care for vulnerable members of the community, especially those with nowhere else to go. So he started small, gathering with his wife and a few friends at a local house. Pretty soon they began making home cooked meals and opened a temporary shelter, and Water Street Mission was born.
    Even though much has changed since then, Water Street Mission’s goal to bring restoration to the community has stayed the same. Today men, women, and children experiencing homelessness can still find a place to stay where they are met with love and life-changing care. It may have started with meals to those who need it most, but over 100 years later, their mission for restoration is still going strong.

    The Lancaster Playground Association was formed in 1909

    Started: 1909
    Since 1909, Lancaster Rec has been a community partner. Through the hardest of times, their programming forged on. Some key programming for Lancaster Rec include:
    • The Summer Playground program. Since the early 1900s, Lancaster Rec has provided free summer fun for children and families in Lancaster through the Summer Playgrounds program. Today, Lancaster Rec operates these free programs at six wading pools throughout the city of Lancaster, as well as a full-service community pool at the Conestoga Pines Park.
    • The Lancaster Playground Association. In 1909, the Lancaster Playground Association was formed with the mission of creating awareness for the lack of playground space in Lancaster, as well as an emphasis on the value of recreation. Today, Lancaster Rec offers recreation programming for all ages including early childhood education, youth programs, special events, sports, and senior activities.
    • The Golden Age Club. In 1947, the Lancaster Recreation and Playground Association formed the Golden Age Club (later called the Happy Hours Club and then Happy Hearts Club), with the purpose of providing activities for seniors over 60. Today, Lancaster Rec continues to operate programs for senior citizens in our community. Membership is free and activities include exercise classes, ukulele lessons, technology classes, and special events.

    Warfel's first major project, the Ascension Lutheran Church

    Started: 1911
    In 1911, Lancaster Business College graduate, D.S. Warfel decided that Lancaster County could use a new general contracting firm. With his friend, Harry W. Peters, he established the D.S. Warfel General Contractor firm and took his first job constructing a small church downtown. As the company grew and prospered over the next two decades, Warfel took on its largest project yet, the Lancaster Train Station, which stands today as it was originally built, except for a few upgrades made in recent years.
    From taking on bridgework and residential construction during war times to focusing on public schools, shopping centers, and industry during the boom of the 60s and 70s, to expanding geographic reach throughout the mid-Atlantic in more recent years, Warfel has remained faithful to supporting its local roots over the past 110 years.
    Warfel’s more current work in Lancaster City includes the newest addition to Fulton Bank, the renovations and grand expansion at the Fulton Theatre, the Lancaster Chamber Building, Central Market renovations, and the 101NQ redevelopment.

    Barney McGrann bought Penn Stone in 1986

    Started: 1914
    In 1914, Menno Swarr, a young building materials salesman, struck out on his own and started Pennsylvania Stone, Cement & Supply Company. Beginning with an office downtown and a stoneyard on North Prince Street, Penn Stone cut large blocks of stone for new construction and supplied many of the same masonry materials it does today, and in the early 1930s, the current location at Ross and Water Streets was developed.
    In 1986, Barney McGrann purchased Penn Stone. At that time, Penn Stone was a supplier of masonry, fireplace, and plaster materials to local contractors, but Barney envisioned a different future for Penn Stone. He expanded the product line, and over the next ten years, Penn Stone’s business grew to include natural stone veneer and a wide selection of natural landscape stone. Penn Stone has now become the leading local supplier of exterior masonry materials as well as a pioneer in the field of hardscaping for patios, walkways, driveways, and retaining walls in Lancaster. Under the new ownership of John McGrann and Mara Creswell McGrann, Penn Stone added a retail store – Penn Stone Outdoor Living – in 2005 that features outdoor furniture, planters & fountains, and most everything else you could need for outdoor living.

    Lancaster Mennonite was been educating world changers since 1942

    Started: 1942
    Since Lancaster Mennonite School’s founding, it has provided students with an educational community guided by the values of their faith. The school offers special programming including the Spanish Immersion Program which begins in kindergarten and the Project-Based Learning Middle School Program which combines STEM education with hands-on learning. LM’s dedicated teachers, dynamic curriculum, and nurturing community prepares students to become creative and innovative learners who are prepared for college, career, and life.

     

    The LCSWMA transfer station was revitalized in 2008 to give it the look of a rail station, honoring the heritage of Lancaster

    Started: 1954
    LCSWMA’s history is one of commitment to the people and communities of Lancaster County. They exist to protect the environment and serve their fellow Lancastrians, working together to build a clean, safe, and beautiful community. Since their humble beginnings, LCSWMA has remained at the forefront of integrating new technologies and innovative practices into its waste management system that help the communities of Lancaster County thrive. These efforts continue today, as they meet the needs and values of the people and businesses they serve.
    Fun fact: Bob Zorbaugh, LCSWMA’s CEO, started with the organization over 30 years ago, beginning as a Construction Inspector at LCSWMA’s Frey Farm Landfill. As his career evolved, he witnessed the transformation of LCSWMA into an award-winning and internationally recognized organization that continues to bring value to the Lancaster community.

     

    Founder, Anh Thu Cao

     

    Started: 1960s
    In the 1960s in his native South Vietnam, Y Van Vu was a successful restaurateur as the proprietor of Pho Tau Bay. He had a protégé too: his daughter, Anh Thu Cao. Anh even went with him to his Saigon outlets to ensure that the broth, made from a secret recipe, met family standards. After Saigon fell in 1975, the family was scattered until they reunited in New Orleans. Given the city’s vibrant Vietnamese community, Anh decided to try her luck with a restaurant. Like her father, she too succeeded: A food stall in the early 80s gave rise to a restaurant in 1983, and her children eventually opened two more. When the family moved to Lancaster in 2005, they carried on Y and Anh’s legacy as they opened Rice & Noodles in 2006 and Sprout in downtown Lancaster in 2016—a family business built on a love for bringing fresh, healthy food to the Lancaster community.

     

    WITF's first program guide in 1964

    WITF
    Started: 1964
    Like public television stations across the country, WITF’s origins are rooted in the lengthy struggle to bring noncommercial educational and instructional television to the airwaves. In 1963, the South Central Educational Broadcasting Council was born, and within a year of its creation, the Council had succeeded in its mission. In July of 1964, the station’s first staff artist, Florence Starr Taylor, suggested the call letters “ITF” for “It’s Top Flight,” to convey the quality of the new enterprise. Those letters, and the meaning behind them, stuck.

    WITF TV first signed on the air on November 16, 1964, bringing free, educational television to classrooms and living rooms throughout Central Pennsylvania. Since 1964, WITF has held steadfast to its roots; inspiring lifelong learning by connecting people and communities of Pennsylvania through trusted journalism, thoughtful discussion, and educational experiences.

    A Fig photo shoot with owner Jim Albright from 2017

    Albright Opticians
    Started: 1965
    After being discharged from the Navy at the end of WWII, Jim’s father went to work, along with his two brothers, at Berks Optical on Orange Street in Lancaster. After working his way up to Vice President, he left in 1964 to open his own business. By the time he retired in 1991, Albright Opticians had expanded to five stores in Lancaster and Wilmington, Delaware. Today, it is owned and managed by his son, Jim Albright, and offers comprehensive eye exams, contact lenses, fashionable frames, sports glasses, sunglasses, and industrial safety glasses.

     

    Founder, Manny Lapp

    Started: 1969
    Emanuel “Manny” Lapp grew up Amish, ironically founding Lapp Electric, an electrical contracting service business, at the age of 26 with his wife, Flossie. Manny’s example of fearless work ethic, perseverance, and authentic servant leadership has inspired and energized Lapp Electric to be a company that continues to shine bright today. In 2002, Manny’s sons, Greg and Tim, became the second-generation business owners, who lead an extraordinary team of professionals. Well-versed in all types of residential, commercial, and industrial electrical projects, they provide 24-hour emergency service to best serve their customer’s needs.

    Benjamin Roberts founders in 1977 

    Started: 1977
    Benjamin Roberts was started in 1977 to partner with Central Pennsylvania companies to outfit their workplaces with quality, relevant, and ergonomic furniture and installation services. Their founders believed in repurposing downtown Lancaster spaces and were committed to being a part of the city’s long-term growth and vitality.
    “Our founders originally opened our doors in downtown Lancaster because they wanted to be a part of building a vibrant City. Today, we are proud to continue providing contract workplace furniture to the Central PA region from our headquarters on Prince Street, and we look forward to contributing to a thriving local economy and community for years to come.” – Rob Bomberger, President

     

    Tim & Soraya in Southern Spain 

    Started: 2009
    “Tim and I met in high school in 1994 while I was an exchange student in Bethlehem, PA. After high school, I went back to Spain to attend college, and Tim later studied in Madrid for a year while attending college. Tim fell in love with Spain and our family business of producing extra virgin olive oil. In the late 90s, we dedicated all the time we could learning how to export EVOO to the US. For the next ten years, we drove across the East Coast and opened up retail store accounts for our brand Aguibal. In 2009, Tim and I decided to take a risk and open our first store in Historic Bethlehem. A year later, we opened our second store in Annapolis, MD and a third store in Lancaster.
    We are passionate about producing, importing, and selling top quality extra virgin olive oil. We have dedicated most of our lives to learning about producing the best, nutrient-dense extra virgin olive oils to share with our customers, and I am proud to say that we have become leading experts around the subject of olive oil. Fortunately, our job never feels like work, but an amazing journey of innovation and growth.” – Soraya Aquilar Balshi, co-founder of Seasons Olive Oil

     

    A Fig photoshoot with David Lyall from 2016

     

    Started: 1979
    “My one true love in life has always been fine furniture and beautiful interiors. As an adult in 2007, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase the family business, a southern Lancaster County furniture company that was founded in the late 1970s. As a longtime advocate for the City of Lancaster, I began to set my sights on relocating and rebranding my company to better reflect my passion…personalized custom residential and commercial interiors. The move to our current design studio and showroom at 241 North Prince in 2015 provided the perfect venue to create a welcoming and inclusive showroom environment that could showcase all things unique and visually stimulating. Working with my team of five dedicated design professionals, we begin every day with the goal of making Central Pennsylvania a more beautiful place, one interior at a time.” – David Lyall, founder and owner

    One of Gil Lyons' early headshots

    Started: 1984
    “I started my real estate career to help my clients with one of the most stressful, and impactful decisions in their lives: choosing where to live. With 37 years of real estate marketing and sales experience, I try to anticipate the potential pitfalls in the buying and selling processes to make your real estate experience as enjoyable and as profitable as possible. Since I started my real estate career in 1984, I have tried to take a holistic view of how to best help my clients navigate the sale or purchase of their home, investment property, or vacation home. I know how important these decisions are and I am here to help.” – Gil Lyons, serving all of Lancaster County and specializing in Chestnut Hill, West Lancaster, and School Lane Hills

    The first Two Dudes VW bus

    Started: 1987
    Started by high school friends Peter Barber and Brian McCaskey, Two Dudes Painting Company used to literally be comprised of two dudes and the orange and tan 1979 VW bus they bought in 1989. With a unique brand, good work ethic, and fair pricing, Peter and Brian soon found themselves having more work than they knew what to do with. Since those humble days in the late 80s and early 90s, Two Dudes has grown into a full-service professional painting company with over 65 employees, a 13,000 square foot building, and a lot more vehicles than just a used VW bus.
    As of 2017, Two Dudes is also a fellow Certified B Corporation.

    The Funk brothers in 2013 after purchasing Annie Bailey's

    Started: 2006
    “An Irish pub is more than Celtic music, Guinness on drafts, and hearty cuisine on the menu. At Annie Bailey’s Irish Public House, we strive to ensure that our pub identity doesn’t begin and end with these iconic elements—rather, that they are the familiar, delicious trappings atop a foundation of the warm, inviting hospitality for which Irish pubs are known.
    Anchored by a dependable mix of traditional Irish Fare, modern American cuisine, classic pub grub, and seasonal chef specials, Annie’s is accentuated by a stellar lineup of Irish and craft beers and ciders, shelves-on-shelves of whiskeys, signature cocktails, and a weekend brunch that means business.
    My brother and I went to Penn State for Hospitality Management before working in the industry in Atlanta and Washington D.C. The opportunity to purchase Annie Bailey’s in 2013 was a chance for us to come back to our hometown and grow something for ourselves and give back to the community we love.” – Joshua Funk, co-owner of TFB Hospitality, along with his brother Jacob

     

    Be on the lookout for Chellas food truck this summer!

    Started: 2018
    “My grandmother, Chella, taught me to share my heritage through food. Her cooking inspired me to bring the South American flavors from my childhood to Lancaster County. Deciding to start the food truck took a leap of faith, and many personal sacrifices. Regardless, I had made my decision. I was all in, and in the end, I saw my dream for my own food truck come true in May 2018.” – Luis Quiroz, owner of Chellas Arepa Kitchen

     

    On March 9th, PeoplesBank celebrated one year at their location in 101NQ

    in Lancaster City
    Started: 2020
    Despite launching a brand new concept in banking just one week before a pandemic hit, PeoplesBank have continued to serve the Lancaster community by offering customized solutions to both personal and business clients. To help combat the spread of COVID-19, PeoplesBank quickly pivoted and utilized the technology at the Connections Center to have video calls with clients. This provided a safe and convenient way for a PeoplesBank Financial Mentor to meet with their clients and have meaningful conversations about their needs.
    In 2020 alone, PeoplesBank was able to provide more than 1,300 small businesses with more than $180 million dollars in PPP funding that they desperately needed to keep their businesses afloat, including several businesses located in Downtown Lancaster. In their first year, PeoplesBank has expanded their team by adding half a dozen new associates to specifically serve the Lancaster market.

     

    Laura's two daughters, Morgan and Kaitlyn, who still lend a hand with Perfect Pots at 17 and 14 years old

     

    Started: 2008
    Perfect Pots was born out of relationships. Owner, Laura, grew up in her mother’s flower shop, watching and learning how simple, intentional interactions with customers would compel them to return time after time for high quality florals that added beauty to their lives. When Laura would visit greenhouses in Lancaster County with her mom, she again saw how those genuine connections, grown over time, could turn into business relationships.
    Years later, with two small daughters of her own, Laura began designing planters out of her own garage for friends and family, and Perfect Pots was born in 2008. Since then, Perfect Pots has grown exponentially from serving a small number of clients out of a garage space to four locations specializing in four-season container garden design, fresh florals, garden maintenance services, and unique garden décor.

    Sisters, Amanda Jean and Laura Mae

    Started: 2010
    Maejean Vintage was founded in 2010 by vintage-enthusiast and kindergarten teacher Laura Mae, as a side hobby selling timeless heirlooms online. As the business grew, her sister, Amanda Jean, who had just graduated from Temple University with a Business Management degree, hopped on board. Together, the sisters ran the e-commerce jewelry business from their parents’ basement, and soon after moved into a private office in the city to grow their team and offerings. Today, Maejean Vintage is made up of a team of six fierce women, with a mission to connect their globally diverse customers with exceptional vintage jewelry heirlooms, ready to be cherished for another lifetime.

    Early days of soap making for Heather and Nathan

    Started: 2011
    “After four years of riding a roller coaster of unexplained infertility, we desperately searched for something to take our minds off of our concerns. As I looked for a creative outlet, I became inspired by the story of a friend’s soap making endeavor and decided to give it a try. I researched soap making and, well, the rest is history.
    As Nathan and I worked together to create beautiful bars of soap, peace and tranquility crept back into our lives and quickly turned our fun hobby into a family business. Nathan and I started working together in our kitchen, then moved to a small studio in our home, then to a 2,500 square foot warehouse on 1st Street, and now our current space on North Charlotte Street which has been our production facility for the past 6 years. One product led to another, which led to another and another, and after outgrowing that space, we are ready to announce the location of our new production, education, and retail space in the heart of Lancaster City. The new location will be a perfect location to expand Makes Scents Natural Spa Line as well as our sister-line of hemp-based products, Hempfield Botanicals. Our business has brought joy and excitement to our lives. What started out as a bar of soap ended in a 9,200 square foot manufacturing facility in the heart of Lancaster. We are proud of what we have accomplished so far and look forward to our exciting future.” – Heather Kreider, co-founder of Hempfield Botanicals

    The ribbon cutting for the Lancaster studio opening

     

    Started: 2008
    Twelve Individuals, supported by Friendship Community, gathered together in 2007 in a small room to paint and socialize. Their ongoing projects included original canvas designs, painted glass vases, and wooden toys. A move to Main Street in Ephrata in 2009 earned this small group a new name — “The heART of Friendship Art Gallery.” By 2013, after the addition of several new artists, their vision to have community inclusion in the Downtown Lancaster Art District became a reality under the rebranded “Friendship Heart Gallery & Studio.”
    Currently, over 70 adult Heart Artists with Intellectual Disability and Autism participate in lessons within this thriving gallery and studio in Lancaster City. The gallery then sells these masterpieces, along with home décor items, at the studio on North Water Street.