State Platters is Back in Business
Us New Yorkers, we’re familiar with the legendary gyro cart known only by it’s location–53rd and 6th. Hell, the place has its own Wikipedia page. Needless to say, it sets the bar for street food everywhere.
Someday, Sunny Shakhawala hopes that State Platters reaches that lofty plateau.
“Hopefully, Beaver and Pugh will become the new 53rd and 6th,” he said.
Yes, State Platters closed up shop for the winter, but it was more of a hibernation period than a foreshadowing of financial issues. Shakawala explained that he and his partner Hartej Singh Sawhney were copying the business model of next-door neighbors Rita’s, who also re-opened for the spring after a hiatus.
“It’s a seasonal business,” Shakhawala said. “Penn State is a seasonal town. There’s really not much business in winter.”
But even though State Platters closed, Penn State students were deluged with options to fulfill their falafel fix. I’m something of Onward State’s resident shawarma expert, and, back in January, I visited Pita Cabana and Grab ‘N Go Eats, which opened their doors over the winter. I didn’t even take into account Papa Pita, yet another recent local entrant into the genre of Middle Eastern food.
Shakhawala acknowledged that the other businesses overlapped his own, but wasn’t particularly worried that the progenitors of State College’s new trend would be lapped by the field.
“The competition is fine, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said, “but as soon as we came back, a lot of our loyal customers came back.”
And why did they return?
“From what I’ve heard from my customers, we sell the best experience, the best value, and the best customer service,” he said, adding that low overhead allowed him to keep prices lower than his competitors.
Part of that customer service includes a strong social media component. Building a base from 10 Twitter followers to 200 by the time State Platters reopened in March has allowed State Platters to reach out to their customers, including a daily discount offer.
And they’re open late. How late? Well, their website doesn’t even list a closing time. As long as there’s a steady procession of drunk Penn Staters looking to fulfill a late-night cravings, State Platters will be there to cater to their gyro needs.
So even though the weather might make it feel like it’s still winter, don’t worry–State Platters is back in season.