New Business Spotlight on Sunflower Cafe and Bakery

Many people take a negative from their lives and turn it into a positive.

For Judy Ryder, it was an illness.

Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten found in wheat and grain products. About one in 135 people suffer from celiac disease. That prompted her to start creating gluten-free foods and selling them.

The demand was so great for her products that she decided last year to take it one step further by opening up Sunflower Cafe & Bakery, 145 W. Fourth St., Williamsport.

“There was a need,” she said. “The whole idea for me to get in here was for doing gluten-free products.”

With its wooden floors, brick walls and wall art, her business appears like a place for sipping coffee. But Ryder makes it clear it’s not a coffee shop.

Customers can get a cup of java, but they can also order sandwiches and various baked goods – all gluten free. She takes a lot of old recipes and adapts them to gluten-free products.

“We have created a lot of different products for a lot of different people,” she said.

Ryder said business has been good since she opened. And one big reason is because many people are looking for healthy alternatives in their diets.

“We have such an opportunity to help so many people,” she said. “We all have the same mindset that the health of people is important.”

Ryder employs two people along with a couple of interns. Like any small business person, she works long hours, but finds the pay-offs to be great. She feels she was called to come up with healthy products that can help people.

“People you meet are always so grateful,” she said. “That’s what makes it rewarding.”

She conceded that some customers who have come to her front door have turned quickly away after learning that she serves gluten-free foods. But she also feels that many people simply are uneducated about her products.

“There is a big misconception that gluten free doesn’t taste good,” she said.

But that’s not necessarily the case, and Ryder is happy to talk to customers about what they’re missing by not sampling her products. She’ll be the first to tell anyone that tasty foods can be healthy too.

Hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More information is at The telephone number is 916-0719.