All of the restaurants we visit for Berks County Eats are small businesses.
Though they vary in size, the biggest and busiest restaurants only employ a few dozen people at most between cooks, servers and assorted staff.
But some restaurants are smaller than others. Birdsboro’s Hay Creek Snack Shack, for instance, makes the average diner seem like a corporate enterprise.
The name is more apt than I thought because truly is not much more than a shack. Blink and you may miss the tiny building on 1st Street.
Most customers must take their orders to go because the dining room consists of five two-seat tables and a single round high-top and barstool in the back corner. The kitchen was at maximum capacity with the two people behind the counter.
What the Snack Shack lacks in size, it makes up for in the size of its menu. The menu board, which includes both breakfast and lunch selections, runs the length of room. Three more dry erase boards display the day’s specials.
Scanning the menu, I saw a seemingly endless number of choices: pancakes, omelets and French toast on the breakfast side; burgers, paninis, tacos and sandwiches on the lunch side.
As I looked it over, the word “homemade” caught my eye in the description of the pulled pork sandwich, making my decision much easier.
I knew I wasn’t going to be getting true smoked barbecue, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Drowning in an extra sweet sauce, the sandwich would have been a mess if not for the toasted roll that kept everything tucked neatly inside what was a very meaty sandwich.
Of course if you’re getting a sandwich at lunch, you have to get some fries. The Snack Shack’s fresh-cut fries varied in shade from yellow to brown. Fresh out of the fryer, they were still just a little oily, but that only added to the flavor.
The chili cheese dog caught Julie’s eye. The cheese sat atop the hot dog like liquid gold; the meaty chili poked through the edges. The hot dog, itself, was invisible beneath the toppings. It was as gooey and good as it looked.
With so many mouthwatering flavors of ice cream, and seeing as how it is now spring, we couldn’t resist treating ourselves to a sweet treat so we each ordered a small milkshake. I went with the maple walnut while Julie went all-out with the kitchen sink.
If you can name it, it’s probably in kitchen sink ice cream. Chunks of Oreo cookies and Reese’s Pieces were just the first two in a long list of goodies that eventually found their way into her shake. There was just a hint of mint mixed in somewhere, which is always a perfect match for chocolate.
Having few employees and little overhead, the Snack Shack’s prices remain small as well. Even with the splurge on milkshakes, we came in well below $20 for our visit.
There are plenty of old sayings I could use to describe the Hay Creek Snack Shack: “Good things come in small packages.” “Size doesn’t matter.” Whatever cliché you want to use, it.
The Snack Shack is a little place that’s big on value and, more importantly, flavor.