Furst Corner owner waives hearing

Bittner allegedly failed to pay $114K in taxes

BEECH CREEK — Many area residents were surprised to learn that Donna R. Bittner, 75, of Blanchard was charged with failing to pay sales and employer taxes over a period of five years.

She was the owner of the Furst Corner, 39 Main St., Beech Creek. The popular restaurant closed in June.

Bittner herself said she was very surprised by the criminal charges. She said she learned about it from a news report on television.

“I didn’t even know what they were talking about,” she said.

A total of 94 charges were filed against her on July 17.

Shortly after that, she told The Express she was seeking legal advice, and now she is represented by Wayne E. Bradburn Jr. of the State College firm Decker Bradburn. She also declined to comment publicly about the charges.

On Tuesday, she waived her preliminary hearing. She is charged with failing to pay a total of $114,456.81 in sales and employer taxes between June 2012 and March 2017. The total includes $106,565.20 in state sales tax and $7,891.61 in employer withholding tax.

The Furst Corner was well known as a place to get a good, stick-to-your-ribs meal at a decent price. It included a diner section and a more formal dining room. The diner, complete with counter, tables and booths, was decorated with Coca-Cola and Mr. Peanut collectibles and country-store items that recalled a quieter era. Customers enjoyed contributing items to the collections.

An antique, crank telephone hung on one wall. It was the very first phone in Beech Creek, and Donna purchased it to display in honor of the building’s housing the first telephone exchange in Beech Creek.

The building’s brick section was built in 1877. The Bittner family restored it, adding old-fashioned streetlamps out front.

They also ran a catering business and were very involved in the community.

The restaurant was particularly known for its generosity, giving free Thanksgiving meals, served family-style and open to one and all.

In recent years, the Beech Creek Wesleyan Church took over as the meal sponsor for the holiday feed, but The Furst Corner was still involved and still made them happen.

Donna and her husband, Charles (“Chink”), also were driving forces behind the original Santa Jump events some decades ago that saw Santa Claus parachute into town to greet an excited crowd of kids — and adults — as Christmastime neared. They also supported the Santa Jump in 2014 which recalled the excitement of past years.

At one point, The Furst Corner included a bed and breakfast on the second floor. Now that floor has regular tenants.

The business even had its own, relatively friendly ghost, to hear the restaurant staff tell it.

At age 75, Donna was ready to retire, and after 31 years, The Furst Corner closed its doors for good. Sunday, June 4 was its last day of business.

It has left a hole in the larger community that may never be completely filled.