Lydia Stoltzfus runs her business the way she keeps her home: orderly and efficient.

Not surprising - she was a homemaker for more than 30 years, raising a brood of nine before she opened Aunt Lydia's Salads at the Markets at Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury Township.

Stoltzfus, 59, of Narvon, Lancaster County, started her business in 2002, after three of her kids got married and she had less work to do at home. She heard the market was looking for someone to run a salad stand, and she had years of experience working at a market.

Her dad, Levi Esh, used to travel two-and-a-half hours every Friday from their Lancaster County home to a market in Somerville, N.J., to sell meats, cheeses and baked goods. Esh, now deceased, started his business in 1951 and ran it for more than 30 years.

Stoltzfus worked with him from when she was 16 years old to when she got married when she was 20. Esh taught her how to work hard.

"We had to keep on our toes. Dad was one that made sure customers (had) first priority," Stoltzfus said, adding that the only break she took was to use the restroom. "He loved people, he loved to please. He loved to have good products."

During my trip to Aunt Lydia's Salads, I was immediately greeted by Stoltzfus as I peered into a deli case filled with baked mac and cheese, potato and macaroni salads, pickled eggs with red beets, and rows of other options. Unsure of what to order, I watched as Stoltzfus quickly serviced approaching customers, never allowing much of a line to grow despite a constant flow of business.

I chose the lunch special, which comes with a half wrap of choice, two sides and a drink. I picked turkey, and broccoli-and-cauliflower and fruit salads. Stoltzfus had my meal ready in about a minute.

The wrap came with lettuce, tomato, pickles and sweet and sour dressing on a fresh honey-wheat tortilla. The veggie salad had a coleslaw-esque taste, but wasn't too heavy on mayo. The fruit salad seemed like a mix of canned and fresh fruit, a good mix of what's available during winter months.

My favorite part of the meal was being able to choose from so many side dishes. Stoltzfus said she serves about 40 sides, soups, salads and desserts, all recipes that she pulled together from various books before starting the stand. She and a handful of workers prepare most of the items on Thursdays, and she orders a few ready-made.

She said she makes her family most of the recipes. However, preparing meals for her family is much different than preparing meals for her business.

She used to wake up at 5 a.m. to make breakfast, take care of her kids and do housework. Now, she must be out the door by 4:30 a.m. on market days.

She said running a home was easier. Even as a mother of nine and aunt of more than 50 nieces and nephews, Stoltzfus said she has to be more on the ball at work.

"You have to be organized, or it's going to be chaos," Stoltzfus said.

Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants with meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 771-2101,

If you go

LOCATION: Aunt Lydia's Salads, Markets at Shrewsbury, 12025 Susquehanna Trail South in Shrewsbury Township

CUISINE: American and Pennsylvania Dutch

LEIGH'S PICK: Lunch special, half of a turkey wrap with two sides, broccoli and cauliflower and fruit salads, and an iced tea ($6.50)


HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $1.35 to $6.50



ACCEPTS: Cash and credit cards



DETAILS: Visit or call 235-6611


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