Shady Maple smorgasbord: Good Eating

I always enjoy going to new place whether  it’s a hotel, city or restaurant.  The older I get it seems I tend to go back to places I really like.

Recently however I discovered the Shady Maple smorgasbord in East Earl Pennsylvania, 15 miles from Lancaster. It is billed as Lancaster county’s largest buffet.  With about 200 feet of buffet, I’d say that’s probably right.

It seats about 1,900 people in two rooms and at times, especially during the summer, it’s filled.  And even with those huge crowds the lines move very quickly.   Folks come in from all over, including many bus tours.

Each day you’ll find more than 200 food items displayed.  The variety runs the gamut, chicken, meat, fish, pasta, fruit, veggies, seafood, salad, more than 40 items, and a dessert bar that includes ice cream, cakes, pies and cookies.

Shady Maple is family owned and operated by the Weavers.  It all started years ago as a roadside stand and has grown to what it is today.  A place that employs about 800 people making it one of the largest employers in Lancaster County.

The restaurant is closed only six days a year, and those are the major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter.  How much business do they actually do?  Okay, how’s this, in 2012 they served more than 1.4 million customers.  That’s a lot of mashed potatoes and fried chicken.

Here’s a deal for you to think about.  If it’s your birthday, and you can prove it, you eat free.  So right there is a good reason to head up on that day.  Just be sure you bring some proof.  As my memory serves, I do believe I was told that over the years they have served more than 90,000 customers on their birthday.

Have a huge helping of beef. Meat eaters will love this place.
Have a huge helping of beef. Meat eaters will love this place and so will vegetarians with so much to check out – and devour.

From Monday to Saturday you’ll find a different special.  For example Monday is the night for Delmonico Steak and New York Strip, Tuesday is Seafood night, Wednesday is the night for Prime Rib and Honey Ham and Thursday is Rib night.  Prices vary each day with the specials, but basically run from $11.83 (less for breakfast) to $23.99.  Those aged 4 to 10 receive a 50 percent discount, those 60 or older get a 10 percent discount and those 90 or older receive a 50 percent discount.

Downstairs you’ll find a 40,00 square-foot gift shop.   You can spend a hour or two just browsing through all the merchandise.  You’ll find items for sale that would be difficult to find elsewhere.  Items such as Fenton Glassware, Amish crafted oak furniture and framed art.

In short, Shady Maple is worth your time and effort.  It’s about 90 minutes from Baltimore at 129 Toddy drive.  For more information call 717-354-8222 or go to