50 Days At Champs: Two Seniors Put A Unique Twist On A Penn State Tradition

While over 300 people were spending 55 days at Cafe 210 West, two Penn State students were spending 50 days at a different downtown State College bar.

Champs Downtown is a favorite for most Penn Staters over the age of 21, but recent Schreyer Honors College graduates Toby Lazear and Nina Bar-Ness recently took their love for the bar to a whole new level.

At first, the idea to spend 50 straight days at Champs was just for fun and games. But now, the two say it was the best experience they could’ve asked for to end their four years in Happy Valley.

The idea first came about when Bar-Ness’s friends asked her to participate in either “55 Days of Cafe” or 50 days at Primanti Bros. After talking to Lazear, she decided that Champs was the only bar she’d be willing to spend the long haul at. Lazear quickly agreed to join her, and on Friday, March 18, their journey began. 

To keep track of their 50 days, the girls made an Instagram account, @50daysofchamps. At first, they made it just for their own enjoyment. However, their friends discovered it and started to look forward to their updates at the end of each day.

“One of my friends started questioning me when we forgot to post one day and said that she relied on our posts to know what she should order,” Bar-Ness said. “It was just so funny that people were so invested in what we were doing.” 

After the first few weeks, they started to pick up on a routine. They figured out how crowded the bar would be each day of the week and even became friends with the employees. On slow days like Mondays and Tuesdays, the girls would order something to eat and catch up for a little bit. On busier days, they would just order drinks and stay to hang out.

“As we started to become regulars, some of the bartenders would know my drink order before I even got there,” Lazear said. 

Her go-to order was a vodka water with a splash of lime juice, while Bar-Ness’s was a vodka sour. But, the drinks weren’t everything. If it’s one thing the girls want people to know, it’s how everyone underestimates how good the food at Champs is. 

“We didn’t initially think that Champs had really good food, but they do.” Bar-Ness said. “Our favorite sandwich was definitely the ‘Sandy Koufax.’” 

As time went on, a lot of the girls’ friends would join them at the bar. However, they would always end up leaving to go somewhere else, while the duo would typically stay until closing.

“My favorite nights were the ones where we would start off with a whole group of people but end it with the two of us,” Bar-Ness said. 

As honors students, both Bar-Ness and Lazear were busy working on their thesis as the semester started to wind down. You might be wondering — how did they manage to make it to Champs every day while also finishing their work? Well, they brought their laptops to the bar, ordered food, and worked on assignments together. 

One of the big reasons the two embarked on their mission in the first place was to simply spend time together. The two were roommates as juniors and wanted to make the most of their time together in their final year at Penn State. From this, they learned an important lesson.

“In hindsight, we realized that you always have an hour that you can take out of your day to see your friends,” Lazear said. “It was nice to take a small break from all of our work sometimes and be social for a little while instead of stressing out.” 

The 50th and final day was Friday, May 6. Ironically enough, it happened to be the same day they attended Schreyer’s medal ceremony. But, this did not stop the girls from finishing what they started. They got their diplomas and went straight to the bar to celebrate. 

“My parents came with us on that last day,” Bar-Ness said. “My dad even said he didn’t know what he was more proud of — my graduation or 50 days of Champs.” 

As a result of successfully completing the 50 days, they received black cards. With this card, they never have to pay a cover and they can always skip the line, which is a pretty sweet perk.

“We’re ride or die Champs fans,” Lazear said. “We would 100% recommend that everyone do this if they can.”

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About the Author

Emily Grill

Emily is a third-year broadcast journalism student from New Jersey. She likes to think that being Italian and 5 feet tall are her biggest personality traits. You can probably catch her at Chick-fil-A at least two or three days out of the week. Feel free to contact her by emailing [email protected].

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