Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Sunny Sweets: New restaurant specializes in Mexican-inspired treats

Guadalupe Islas, proprietor of Yum Yum Mini Pancake Bar & More, says the Mexican restaurant she opened recently on the west shore is like none around.

She doesn’t focus on serving dinner fare already available at many others. Instead, she offers a unique menu of sunny sweets and treats from her native land, such as spiced abuelita hot chocolate, waffles and concha tres leches—Mexican sweet bread topped with customers’ choices of whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate syrup and more.

“When I came here from Houston three years ago, there was nothing else like this here,” she said. “When every one of my customers comes here, they say they’ve never seen anything like this.”

Yum Yum’s innovative fare includes sweet or savory mini pancakes, Mexican hot dogs, topped nachos, street corn, plus several other authentic foods.

“I love the mini pancakes, corn on the cob and street corn,” noted Islas’ husband, Antonio Hernandez.

In many ways, Yum Yum Mini Pancake Bar is a family affair.

Islas’ family emigrated from Mexico to “this beautiful country” when she was 11, settling in New Jersey. Her mother’s busy kitchen inspired not only Islas’ culinary passion but that of her brother, who today runs three Mexican restaurants in New Jersey.

Islas, in turn, said that she always dreamed of opening a restaurant of her own, but as John Lennon once sang, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” She married and moved to Texas, where her husband opened an auto repair business. The couple also became parents to daughters Sheena, now 15, Camilla, 11, and Suri, 9, before relocating near Hernandez’s parents in Wormleysburg.

Prior to opening her restaurant, Islas worked eight years as a dental assistant but remained “always baking and cooking” at home while nurturing her dream of becoming a restaurateur. Finally, her long-held vision came true last year, when she signed a lease on a storefront at Capital City Plaza.

“Now, it was time for me to be in a business,” she recalled with a grin.

Her sister and brother-in-law came from New Jersey to help construct the restaurant’s roomy counter, coat new wooden tables and chairs, and paint cheerful, colorful stripes throughout the dining room. One wall features an enlargement of Yum Yum’s logo designed by daughter Sheena, using a depiction of the family’s chow chow, Mochi.

“I feel really blessed for my family,” Islas said.

Initially, Hernandez said that he “felt surprised” when his wife became the sole owner of a Mexican snack eatery.

“We never had any sort of food business before, but I was really happy that we could be in the food business now,” he said.

Yum Yum’s soft opening took place on Dec. 6, followed by a grand opening celebration that commemorated daughter Suri’s birthday on Dec. 18. Of course, all of Islas’ extended family was on hand to join in the celebration that day, too.

For now, her daughters come to the restaurant after school to help out, joined by Hernandez after the auto repair shop he runs with his father closes for the day. Hernandez said that he helps out with the venue’s ordering, replenishes stock areas, and makes early morning runs to suppliers.

As a new business owner, Islas that said her biggest challenge is “letting people know we’re here.” She hopes that customers’ word of mouth will help “spread the word,” and social media reviews so far are promising.

“Great experience! The food was AMAZING and the customer service was great as well,” said one Facebook comment.

Another complimented “the welcoming and friendly” service, as well as the tasty food and “colorful” environment.

Future plans include an oven installation to introduce such menu items as churros and chocoflan, a chocolate sponge cake topped with crème caramel. For summer, Islas hopes to sell slushies in Mexican flavors like piña colada and sweet-and-salty mangonada.

Another goal, Islas said, is to get more help, which would take some of the burden off of her and her family.

“Hopefully, this coming year, we will hire employees,” Islas said

Yum Yum Mini Pancake Bar & More is located at 3401 Hartzdale Dr., Suite 131, Camp Hill (Lower Allen Township). For more information, call 717-831-3932 or visit their Facebook page.

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