By September 2014, that dream had been realized, and the only citizens he detains these days are diners, who voluntarily turn themselves over to his custody and are arrested by his delectable dishes. The 50-seat restaurant, located across the street from the state Capitol, serves up home-style food seven days a week.
The former Dauphin County deputy sheriff named the place “Anna T’s” as an homage to his late mother, Anna Theresa, at whose side he learned to cook. A portrait of her, with Gaspich’s father John, graces the back wall of the establishment and acts as a comforting reminder.
“When my dad retired in 1992, they spoke of opening a soup and sandwich shop, and it never came to fruition, so I had the opportunity to fulfill both our dreams,” said Gaspich.
The Linglestown resident is no stranger to food preparation. He spent decades working in the kitchen of the local fire company, cooking for weddings and other events.
Made from Scratch
Fans of the first meal of the day have their choice of steak and eggs, sticky buns, hotcakes, breakfast meats and hearty omelets. Late risers will be glad to learn that breakfast is an all-day affair.
“Not many places do that,” said Gaspich.
State workers can easily walk to Anna T’s during their lunch hour and choose from soups, sandwiches and salads. Dinner choices include lump crab cakes and substantial, stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods like meatloaf, turkey with filling and chopped steak, which Gaspich says is a customer favorite.
One thing that sets Anna T’s apart is that everything is made from scratch, from “Mama’s chili” to meatballs to chicken corn soup to the rich, decadent macaroni and cheese. When patrons order sandwiches for the first time, they are often pleasantly surprised to find them devoid of deli meat.
“All our meats are cooked here and hand-carved off the bone,” said Gaspich, adding that the turkey club is a big hit. “We also do a slow-roasted, pulled pork sandwich with our own apple cider barbecue sauce made with real apple cider.”
Gaspich makes it a point to greet all his customers and make them feel welcome.
“Even though I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen, I always attempt to check on every customer,” he said.
Those who leave room for dessert can choose from cookies and cakes, which are baked on site.
“The cakes, pies and the grilled sticky buns are all homemade, using my mother’s or my staffs’ family recipes,” said Gaspich.
Judy Imes works in the Fulton Bank building and is an Anna T’s regular.
“It’s a friendly, relaxing place,” she said. “Mark’s dad comes in, and he’s a joy also.”
Imes enjoys a few dishes in particular.
“When you order a chef salad, you get real turkey, and they offer a tuna melt on Fridays that is just delicious. They also have a veggie omelet that is to die for.”
The Harrisburg resident said she enjoys that all the food is homemade and portions are generous.
“I ordered their hot roast beef sandwich and had to take half of it home,” she said.
Joe Sobel, who works next door, said he likes the fact that Gaspich supports local artists by displaying their artwork, which is available for sale on consignment.
“I’d like to get to the point where I rotate it out every few months,” said Gaspich.
Sobel said he appreciates the fact that the owner has such close ties to Harrisburg. He also enjoys the welcoming atmosphere and the homemade family recipes, including the soups and omelets.
“Everything is fresh and tastes good. For lunch, I often choose the wraps because they’re well done,” he said.
Specials vary daily and diners can preview them by visiting the Anna T’s Facebook page.
For those who want to bring meals home to the family, takeout is available along with seating up front for customers to relax as they wait.
For Gaspich, Anna T’s has been a satisfying second act as he enjoys his new career as a restaurateur.
“My favorite part is chatting with customers and seeing their smiles,” he said. “The fact that I’m putting out comfort foods at a good price makes me happy.”
Anna T’s is located at 210 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 24 hours from Friday through Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information, call 717-236-1110 or visit the Facebook page: Anna T’s.