I have not eaten at Burger King for quite some time. The last two times before this morning when I grabbed a Whopper were April 29, 2010 and November 18, 2011. The former was on my return home to State College after the NFL draft; the latter was on the road back home for Thanksgiving break. Suffice it to say, I don’t go out of my way for BK.
I enjoy the occasional Burger King meal, but there has never really been a convenient location in the area–which is part of the reason I was very intrigued about Burger King opening up inside the HUB.
Burger King is not new to State College, but it may feel like it is to some since the new location inside the HUB is much more convenient for students than heading to the one south of campus on University Drive or way down West College Avenue.
My original plan was to camp out for today’s 7:30 a.m. opening with a Paternoville-like spirit. That fell through, since I left my tent at home over break. But all was not lost. Below is a description of the first few hours leading up to Burger King’s first day on Penn State’s campus.
4:40 a.m. Wake up from a short night of sleep
4:41 a.m. Lay back down and turn off alarm.
5:00 a.m. Wake up again. In this case, #RiseAndGrind > #TeamNoSleep.
5:33 a.m. Walk past McDonalds on East College Avenue to see it completely empty. I am no McDonalds fan nor am I typically walking downtown before sunrise, but I have never seen that place empty before today. People must be pumped for Burger King.
5:40 a.m. Arrive at the HUB. Not one student appears to be inside the building.
6: 02 a.m. HUB workers raise the gates blocking off many restaurants including Starbucks and BK itself.
6:12 a.m. Female student wearing a blue jacket is spotted walking through the ground floor of the HUB. Signs of civilization exist!
6:18 a.m. Janitor spills his coffee outside Starbucks and proceeds to wipe it up. I felt really bad, but at 6:18 in the morning, you need any reason to chuckle.
6:20 a.m. Starbucks employees begin preparations for another day of work.
6:30 a.m. All is quiet as the BK countdown officially has one hour remaining.
6:58 a.m. The first sign of an employee emerges as a Starbucks worker shouts “Good luck Dan, good luck.” Dan looked ready to go, game face on.
7:13 a.m. The fresh aroma can be recognized before one is even in full sight of Burger King. Opening time is vastly approaching.
7:22 a.m. The menu goes live as workers appear to be putting the final touches on preparations.
7:25 a.m. Under five minutes to go. Music is blaring from the HUB. Additional signs of civilization in the form of people!
7:30 a.m. Burger King is officially open for business. Originally I intended to be the first customer but a few others strolled up as I was getting my stuff together.
7:32 a.m. The first customer requested to remain anonymous, but I can confirm that his order was orange juice, a medium coffee, and a breakfast sandwich.
7:33 a.m. The first identifiable customer comes in the form of Penn State student Jeff Repko. This appeared to be an impulse decision from Repko. “It’s the only place open with food right now.”
7:35 a.m. Burger King has eight customers in the first five minutes as a few more stop by. The workers still seem to be adjusting to their jobs but are very friendly.
7:38 a.m. I place my order: bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich along with an orange juice. Normally I don’t care for breakfast sandwiches, but after waiting two hours, I had to order something.
After finishing my breakfast, I spoke for a few minutes with HUB Dining Manager Dave Meder. Meder previously managed Chats, Starbucks, and Joegies before assuming his role as General Manger of Burger King.
The original plan was to open last Monday, Meder said, but that was delayed until today in order to lessen the chance of any complications forcing a temporary closing. Instead, there was a soft opening for some staff held yesterday as employees completed training, and everything was declared ready to go. Meder cites the location, national chain recognition, and late-night specials as reasons to believe Burger King will be successful. “Wendy’s and McDonalds submitted proposals as well, but we felt Burger King best fit our overall needs,” said Meder.
The “Home of the Whopper” is officially open for business now…although Whoppers will not actually be served until 10:30 a.m.
If you purchase food from Burger King in the HUB (or camp out) in the near future, let us know your thoughts and experiences.