If you’re a Penn Stater who’s never had Gumby’s, are you really even a Penn Stater? Many students enjoy congregating at the pizza place after a busy night out or ordering a “big ass” box of Pokeys to enjoy in the comfort of their dorm on a Thursday. But for Tara McGuire and Matthew Yadgir, the restaurant holds an extra special place in their hearts.
It was a warm summer night when McGuire was hanging out with some of her friends in Phi Mu Delta fraternity. The group was sitting on the porch of their Pugh Street house when she met a brother she previously hadn’t been introduced to; enter Yadgir. McGuire and Yadgir sparked a conversation and enjoyed each other’s company, but little did they know how meaningful the interaction would prove to be.
At the start of the following school year, McGuire began her search for a new job downtown. A few of her Phi Mu Delta friends had worked at Gumby’s and it inspired her to give the place a try.
“In September I was looking for a job with more hours than I could find on campus, so I applied at Gumby’s as well,” McGuire said.
Soon after beginning her new job, she found out that the boy she had met that past summer was working as a driver there as well. From the moment they started working together, their deep friendship was instantaneous. After their graduation in 2005, the two continued to work at Gumby’s and were both ultimately promoted to running the store together.
All of that time spent together and their constant workload forced the two to lean on one another in a new way. Consequently, it wasn’t long before the blossoming friendship turned into something more. When they weren’t running the store, McGuire and Yadgir went on various dates to their other favorite hotspots in the area.
“The crazy hours we worked meant that we hung out together outside of work as well,” McGuire said. “We went on our first date at Chili’s and our second was at Sports Cafe.”
However, their work partnership didn’t last forever. As the franchise began to become more and more popular, the company eventually placed Yadgir at the Gumby’s in Madison, Wisconsin. After the move, the grads’ romantic relationship eventually began to phase itself out. However, their connection never truly went away. Phone calls and online games kept the two in contact despite the distance.
“We would talk at least once a week about work and other things. It was great having someone to talk to who was going through the same things at work,” McGuire said. “It was a really great support system.”
Yadgir eventually moved back to State College in 2008 to once again manage the Gumby’s downtown. Although McGuire was already in Pittsburgh after having moved herself, the closer distance made it a bit easier for the grads to hang out from time to time.
“Any time I was back in town, I would stop by the store for a visit,” McGuire said.
Life arguably has a way of working itself out when we least expect it, and that’s exactly what it did for McGuire and Yadgir. McGuire realized how effortless their connection was when she began to camp out at Yadgir’s house during football weekends. As the two began to hang out together again, they knew they had missed out on something great while they were apart.
“Last year, we were finally both single at the same time again and we kind of just picked up where things left off. He’s a really great person to talk to and we have a lot in common, so hanging out always comes easy,” McGuire said. “I started staying at his house when I was in town and when the football season ended, we both realized we wanted to keep hanging out.”
The revival of an old connection was meant to be. The couple eventually began to take turns visiting each other. Though the trip wasn’t as grueling as an 11-hour trip to Madison would have been, dating long distance didn’t prove to be an easy feat. Traveling back and forth eventually became more tedious than anything else, but the couple knew they wanted to make it work, so they decided it was time to take the next step.
“While we both love to travel and have gone on a couple of trips together, traveling to see each other was taking its toll — so we decided to move in together,” McGuire said. “State College has always been one of my favorite places, so the decision for me to move here was an easy one to make.”
The couple has lived together for just over a month and will celebrate their one-year anniversary soon. They couldn’t be happier to have the chance to continue their journey in the place where fate brought them together the first time.
“It may have taken us 11 years to get here, but it was definitely worth the wait.”