Jailhouse Pizza Locks Up Fans in Brandenburg
It's a minimum security facility where there's no hard time, and the menu doesn't stop at bread and water.
After standing unused for the past 34 years, the Brandenburg town lockup has been reformed and paroled as the Jailhouse Pizza restaurant. The decor features manacles, chains and skeleton keys. And there's the trapdoor for convict hangings -- the last one was many decades ago.
Richard Lomerson is the man who turned the pre-Civil War jail into a 21st century eatery.
"It took us about eight months to renovate this building, get it in shape, because it sat from 1974 until 2007, empty," Lomerson says.
He admits it's all a little creepy -- a strange and different place to chow down.
"But the kids love it," Lomerson says. "Kids tell their parents, I wanna go to Jailhouse Pizza. And they actually come in and ask to sit in the jails -- the kids love it."
Hanging on the wall of one cell is a bed once used by female inmates at the jail. This particular cell is called the Jailhouse Rock room. Elvis Presley never stayed here, but Frank James of the famous James Gang spent a few nights here.
And so did Hank Williams Senior. And there's one inmate from long ago who's still seen upstairs.
Waitress Heather Wiedeman says, "We have a ghost that lives upstairs -- and his name is Bixby."
Lomerson says, "Bixby was a prisoner, a local guy that liked John Barleycorn, and he spent quite a time in this jail. They say he just wanted to stay, so he just hangs around -- he's here every day."
"He will let you know he's there by pulling on your hair," Wiedeman says. "He'll pull your earring. I've had people tell me they felt someone push them from behind."
There's even a photograph of a mysterious presence outside one of the old cells.
We can't say if it's the ghost of Prisoner Bixby or not, but the made-from-scratch pie? It's real. In a place where, when sentence is pronounced it's,"Please -- make mine pepperoni."¶