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State College Staples That Alumni Miss The Most: Part One

Last week, we asked our fine readers what State College staples they miss the most. As always, Nittany Nation showed up in droves.

Responses ranged from classics like the Darkhorse Tavern and the Rathskeller to underdogs like Playland and the original site of Canyon Pizza. Below, you’ll find some tributes to former State College staples that will forever live on in memory.

Darkhorse Tavern

Jason Sekerak (Class of 2000)

“There was so many fun Thursday nights as an undergrad for wings and beers with friends. But my favorite memory is going for wings and beers after our wedding. My wife was still in her wedding dress.”

Now that’s how you close out your wedding night.

Mike (Class of 2017)

“I had just turned 21, and my older alumni friend was in town for a game weekend. He had drunk so much there that night they had cut him off, but since he was spending so much money, they wouldn’t kick him out. He pulled me aside, gave me his credit card, and said, ‘Buy a round of shots. Keep it under $250.’ I proceeded to buy 10 shots of Captain Morgan, which no one wanted. I ended up taking half of them myself. That same night my other buddy ended up throwing a plastic table placard at my head. He did get kicked out.”

You know what they say: “You never forget your 21st.”

Baby’s Burgers & Shakes

Katie (Class of 2020)

“Any time a friend was homesick, had a bad breakup, failed an exam, etc., we would go to Baby’s for a burger basket and a milkshake. It didn’t always solve our problems, but the atmosphere and joy of the place took our minds off things for a moment — and the quarter machine was great for laundry day!”

Joe (Class of 2019)

“Baby’s always felt like a great place to be. The atmosphere was welcoming and had a cool theme. I would go with my family when I was younger and had a great time. I don’t have a favorite memory because they are all so good. I just miss that place.”


“Great burgers, fries, and shakes. What else needs to be said?”

The Original Canyon (Currently Roots Kitchen)

Tania (Class of 2015)

“Late nights after the party scene, this was the spot! The new location does not compare. After placing your $1 on the counter, you would get your slice. They used to have this area with ranch and marinara sauce to pour on as much as you wanted, and you could ring the gong at the exit that said, ‘Did you get a slice last night?’ and enjoy your food on some old-school wooden picnic tables. What a night.”


Barry Miles (Class of 1983)

“My wife and I were just talking about this last night. We were students in the early 80s during the height of the video arcade era. There was none better than Playland. Wall to wall old-school video games like Frogger (my wife’s favorite), Asteroids, Pac-Man, plus rows of pinball machines, foosball, and air hockey tables. You could grab a handful of quarters after a tough test, and it was a great place to blow off steam.”

Penn Kebab

Tony (Class of 2016)

“One night, I’m walking home after an exam. It is cold as a motherfucker — the kind of hypothermia-inducing cold you come to expect living in State College during the winter. As my limbs are going numb, the post-exam hunger also starts kicking in when I see Penn Kebab’s ‘OPEN’ sign beckoning.

I make it inside, and the man behind the counter doesn’t even ask me for an order before pouring a cup of the most glorious Turkish tea I’ve ever had in my life. I thanked him then downed the cup, the steam alone helping thaw out my face. I ended up drinking many things in that town, but this is one I’ll never forget. Thank you, Penn Kebab.”

Not all heroes wear capes. Also, for what it’s worth, Penn Kebab is not closed!

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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