Munch on History at The Fraser Street Deli
My first thought as I sat down for lunch at the Fraser Street Deli was, “Holy shit, this menu is freaking huge.” And by huge, I mean there are nearly two hundred diverse arrays of Boar’s Head Brand Meats and Cheeses, along with 12 different choices of locally baked bread. Oh and you’re always promised a pickle too, which is nice.
However, the unique thing about The Fraser Street Deli — and the aspect that has made the sandwich shop well known — is that it ensures a unique ingredient to each gourmet Panini, Rueben, Club, or Deli Wrap — history. Yes, I said history.
Each customized sandwich is named after a specific Penn State legacy, guaranteeing that their marks will never be forgotten on Fraser Street. John Fraser, the third president of Penn State University, is the epitome of Chicken Salad, while Bryce Jordan is the essence of Pepper Ham.
I decided to sit down with a Horace Ashenfelter, who competed in the Olympics from 1947 to 1956 and served in World War II after receiving his degree at University Park. The delectable deli wrap consisted of Turkey Breast, Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, and Fat Free Honey Mustard. My sister ordered the Robert Bernreuter, which offers the ideal Panini for meat-lovers. Pepper Ham, Genoa Salami, Caipicola, Mozzarella, Red Onion, Hot Cherry Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and a hint of Oregano make this warm and toasty Panini a fine recommendation.
So how did the owners decide the appropriate legacy for each customary sandwich? Husband and wife Josh and Cristin Guiher, both 2002 Penn State graduates, researched hours upon hours in hopes to find the precise representations for each yummy sandwich. “We selected people associated with Penn State or Centre County. If you look closely, some categories are grouped in order such as presidents for the ‘plain’ and ‘meat & cheese’ categories. We have added famous professors, writers, athletes, etc over time. All of the salads are current coaches,” said Cristin.
The best sellers in order are The Robbie Gould (Turkey & Bacon), the Mike Guman (Buffalo Chicken), the Lydell Mitchell (Corned Beef), the John Amechi (House Italian), and the Joe Crispin (Turkey Breast).
Sandwiches are grouped in different categories of Penn State lore, including all-americans, coaches, artists (even Michael Pilato), presidents, basketball players, quarterbacks, linebackers, business owners, professors, and other athletes.
The menu has been an ongoing evolution, changing bit by bit over the years. Cristin adds, “This year we added a vegetarian wrap called the Megan Hodge. It has basil pesto, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, and green pepper.” I’m crossing my fingers for an Onward State Panini filled with every meat and cheese available in the near future.
This snug n’ cozy sit-down deli proves to be one of State College’s hidden gems. The Fraser Street Deli is located on 109 South Fraser Street and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here’s the full menu, which is a Penn State history lesson in itself.