New owner Aaron Amspacker and his father-in-law, Michael Bailey, describe the restaurant as a staple in the Mifflin County community.
For Amspacker, the restaurant has a close connection. His parents met at the restaurant, and later his mother waited on tables there while she was pregnant with him, he said.
As a teenager, Amspacker bussed tables for former owners Frank and Joe Pannizzo. As Amspacker’s career progressed, he became the manager of the Downtown OIP.
“We’re combining our gifts to capitalize on the great business Frank and Joe (Pannizzo) started,” Bailey said.
Together, the father-and-son-in-law team have experience: Bailey in business and Amspacker in restaurants.
Bailey is the founding pastor of the Grace Covenant Churches, he said. Born and raised in the area, Bailey still ministers to other pastors in the area, he said, describing himself as a “pastor to pastors.”
Although ministry is his main career, Bailey said he always had to do something else on the side to support his family.
“I’m kind of like Paul, who had to make tents,” he said. “Being in business is my ‘tent making.’”
Bailey said he worked for several years in the construction business, but owning a restaurant was something he always wanted to do.
When the Pannizzo brothers decided to sell the building, Amspacker said they asked him to buy it.
“It was not a tough decision. It’s always been a passion of mine. I had a vision even 10 years ago,” Amspacker said.
Bailey said they both thought and prayed about buying the restaurant, but it was an easy decision.
The Burnham OIP has been a landmark restaurant in the area for a long time, Bailey said.
“We hope to carry on the great tradition. Our challenge is to take it to next level,” he said.
While the recipes are basically the same, Amspacker said he has added some new things to the menu. The restaurant also has weekly specials that are popular, he said.
“We have items that were never sold here before,” Amspacker said, naming their sea food dishes.
“People will stop in to see what our special is ... I’ve heard them say, ‘Now we don’t have to drive over the mountain to get this,’” he said.
Facade improvements — including painting the building, upgrading the bathrooms and adding extra parking — are in the works, Bailey said.
Bailey said he enjoys the business because he is meeting old friends who he hasn’t seen in years.
The restaurant employs approximately 30 people, Bailey said, most of whom worked there when the Pannizzos’ owned the business. Amspacker’s parents still work there — a plus, he said, because now he gets to boss them around.
“It’s the whole family thing that I really love about this,” Amspacker said.
The Burnham OIP is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call the restaurant at 242-0143, or visit it at 105 S. Logan Blvd., Burnham.
Sentinel photo by MICAIAH WISE
New Burnham OIP owners Aaron Amspacker, left, and Michael Bailey bring memories and family connections to the restaurant.