Eat, Play, Live

Fried chicken, hot bar, fruit pies: Burkholder’s appeal stretches beyond Penns Valley

Editor’s note: This story is part of the Eat, Play, Live special section.

Burkholder’s Country Market is a prized possession in Penns Valley. Jesse Burkholder opened the market in downtown Millheim in 1985, selling bulk items and fresh deli items.

After moving to a new location in the early ’90s, Burkholder’s thrived on friendly, personal service and a reputation for fresh, quality products, so much so that Burkholder expanded the store, doubling its size in 2000.

By the time Burkholder’s sons, Les and Russ, took the reins in 2013, the store’s appeal stretched for miles beyond Millheim.

Today, generations of families growing up in and around Penns Valley rave about Burkholder’s traditions and about how the ever-growing market keeps up with changing customer needs. Best of all, you don’t have the live in “the valley” to enjoy it - Burkholder’s is a Happy Valley destination.

When I visited on a recent Saturday for lunch with my family, we had one thing in mind: fried chicken. Burkholder’s fried chicken is, simply put, the best. Co-owner Russ Burkholder describes it better: legendary.

If you think chicken can’t be the stuff of legend, you’ve never been to Burkholder’s. Crispy and flavorful, through and through, it’s made fresh for the hot bar and available for dine-in or takeout.

“Our hot bar and salad bar are extremely popular,” Russ Burkholder said. “Families come in for dinner in the evenings and for lunch on Saturdays. With our most recent expansion, we have seating for more than 80 people in the dining area, and takeout is also available, so it’s convenient whether you’re on the go with the kids, coming in for groceries or just looking for a good meal.”

In addition to the famous fried chicken, the hot bar includes homemade recipes prepared from scratch on-site in the Burkholder’s kitchen. It’s comfort food at its finest: Pennsylvania Dutch-style chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy, mixed veggies, shepherd’s pie, biscuits and more.

On Fridays, the hot bar transforms into a buffet from 3-7 p.m., serving up special features like fish fry, Chinese, Mexican and Dutch homestyle.

“It’s all you can eat for $12.95, which makes it an affordable and convenient option,” Russ Burkholder said. “Our Friday buffet has quickly become a new weekend tradition for families. Kids appreciate the variety, and parents enjoy a night off from cooking after the work week.”

The soft-serve sundae bar probably doesn’t hurt either, not to mention the variety of sweet treats in the bakery, like whoopie pies and fruit pies, both in various flavors.

Locals aren’t the only ones who appreciate what Burkholder’s has to offer. From spring through fall, groups of camping and fishing enthusiasts from across Pennsylvania and beyond stop at Burkholder’s to load up on food and supplies: coffee and breakfast sandwiches for the morning and plenty of snacks and Burkholder’s one-of-a-kind hoagies to fill up the cooler. It’s also a popular stop for Penn State football fans en route for a day of tailgating.

If you’ve never had a Burkholder’s hoagie, add it to your summer picnic bucket list. Made daily from their own famous bakery rolls and freshly sliced deli meats and cheese, you can order yours custom-made, or grab one pre-made that morning.

As a local market serving a loyal local customer base, Burkholder’s offers some unique products, like jellies and jams, and a big selection of bulk foods. My kiddo was enthralled by the individual containers of candy sprinkles in a rainbow of colors and, of course, by entire row of bulk candy. There’s also baking supplies, pasta, snack mixes, nuts, crackers and more.

If you go

Where: 107 Market Drive, Spring Mills

Info: 349-4370,