CLEARFIELD COUNTY Pa. (WTAJ) – For the past 20 years, Gio’s BBQ has been a Clearfield County favorite, but its reach spans much further. For the last 40 years, Dave Panasiti’s life has been in the restaurant business, from working for his dad as a 20-year-old, to now the owner of Gio’s BBQ. That officially comes to a close tonight as he retires.

Now, the community is getting ready to say goodbye to the special” ingredient” that makes the restaurant so special. Gio’s BBQ will close early Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. After closing, Dave and everyone at Gio’s has invited the community to come to a “customer appreciation” for his retirement starting at 7 p.m.

“I’ve loved meeting customers when they come in… that’s the bittersweet part of this,” Dave Panasiti said.

An end to a long career in the business, that started when he purchased restaurant equipment from his friend in the ’80s. He’d go on to win the best ribs award in a competition in Pittsburgh in the ’90s. Then, in the early 2000’s he transformed a gas station and convenience store into the community staple it is today.

“People have told me they’ve gone hours out of their way to get here. I miss them, I loved talking to the truck drivers. We got a lot of truck drivers here and I specifically made the parking lot for them because they like to eat and they love the barbecue,” Panasiti said.

Many of Dave’s customers come from far and wide, all across the country. And for many, a stop at Gio’s means more than just great food.

“When people come in and they’re travelers, Dave always wants to know where they’re from, what they’re doing, have they been here before? And then he goes over his story of how he started and tells a story pretty much every single time. So it’s just nice that he likes to be here and he likes to focus on everybody that comes into the store,” said Autumn Wagoner, a manager at Gio’s BBQ.

As for what’s next? Dave still wants to stay involved in the community and take part in fundraisers. But for now, he said he looks forward to waking up tomorrow and not having to worry about anything that has to do with the restaurant.

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