How SCORE helped. 

Husband and wife pastry chefs Jemil and Sally Gadea together have more than 35 years combined culinary arts experience. Jemil put his skill to the test, beating out other chefs to craft winning desserts on an episode of “Chopped Sweets” in 2020. Both have formal culinary arts degrees and have worked for many years in prestigious dining establishments in Washington D.C.

But, when it came to starting a bakery and gelato business in Sally’s former Bucks County stomping grounds, the Gadeas realized that this was a challenge not easily addressed with a spatula and mixing bowl. In April 2021, the couple sought help from SCORE Bucks County in creating a business plan and financial projections for Panna Gelateria, which they opened in Yardley in July 2022.

“We could have never made this dream a reality without the help of our mentor, Krishna Akella,” the couple said. “We had a dream, but our skills are in the kitchen, not with spreadsheets and financial projections. Krishna spent endless hours patiently walking through the process with us. The road was long, longer than we thought it would be, but it felt important to keep going.”

Jemil, a 2017 Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington RAMMY Best Pastry Chef winner, creates fresh gelato, while Sally, who has nearly a decade of experience as an executive pastry chef at The Hamilton in Washington D.C. makes bakery goods and manages the business.

The dozen gelato traditional and unique flavors change weekly. Similarly, Sally likes to keep customers on their toes in terms of which bakery treats she’ll have available.

“We don’t stick to any strict menu,” she said. “I don’t want it to be something that’s too committal. I like people to be curious.”

Some of the popular items include chocolate chip cookies and galette (a French pastry like a pie or tart). Panna also serves scratch-made breakfast pastries and desserts, as well as coffee, and fresh specialty Italian products. Panna takes orders and offers catering, but does not bake layered cakes, such as birthday cakes. 

Akella commended the Gadeas for their early success, especially given the challenges of relocating, selling their property in Maryland, and raising their daughter, Sofia.

“Kudos to both of you for staying focused and making the Panna Gelateria dream come to fruition,” Akella said. “I personally think that you can make anything, or any new dream happen with your combined strengths and focus - like selling a million gelatos by the end of this decade.”

The Yardley community has wholeheartedly embraced Panna Gelateria, which is in the heart of the borough at 25 S. Main Street.

“The response of support and enthusiasm from our local community has been overwhelming and wonderful,” Sally Gadea said. “When we chose the location, we factored the nearby businesses and the local farmers market, but we could have never expected the most important aspect, which is that Yardley has a lot of local pride and shows up for small businesses.”

Looking ahead, Sally hopes to increase the number of days the business is open next spring, add a manager and more staff. She and Jemil have also discussed possibly buying a gelato cart for use at weddings, festivals, and farmers markets. Eventually, they may also expand to a second location.

“We are excited to keep walking this path and see what’s next,” she said. “It’s helpful to know we can reach out to Krishna or SCORE for assistance as we grow.”

Key Topics

SCORE Helps Pastry Chefs Develop Recipe for Business Success

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