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220 Days Of Cafe: Two Penn State Alumni Complete Fourth 55 Days Challenge

Every year, Cafe 210 West hosts its annual “55 Days Of Cafe” promotion. Participants are challenged to visit the bar every day for 55 days straight leading up to Penn State’s graduation.

Those who complete the challenge have their names immortalized on a plaque and get to attend an exclusive open-bar celebration with tons of giveaways. This year’s 55 Days celebration took place on Monday, May 9, after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Completing the challenge is no easy feat, but Penn State alumni Lizz Wagner and Brice Alford made history this month when they completed their fourth 55 Days challenge.

Wagner and Alford completed their first 55 Days in 2017. Wagner was a senior, and Alford was a recent graduate. The duo also completed the challenge in 2018, 2019, and now, 2022.

In 2017, Wagner and her friend, Kris, decided to give it a shot because they were teaching assistants in a lab and figured it would be easy to stop in together.

“We had a really good time that year and made friends with quite a few staff members in our time there,” Wagner said. “I think being such good friends with so many bartenders, servers, and door staff my second year was part of the driving force behind me doing it again, but having a friend who was really into doing it helped seal the deal that year.”

Alford came back for a second year because his younger friend group wanted to give it a shot. He had just started working for Penn State, so he could conveniently stop by on lunch breaks or on the way home.

Both Wagner and Alford said that 2019 was their favorite year — the year they started off as ~enemies~, but ultimately became friends.

“A friend of mine who was a server had mentioned a week or so prior that there was another person who was also on round three and dubbed them my ‘nemesis’ because up to that point, we thought I was the ‘reigning champ,'” Wagner said. “Someone had also told him of my existence but in the first few weeks, we didn’t overlap. On a beautiful, sunny day in early April, I was sitting on the absolutely packed front patio with a few friends when someone points to the far side of the patio and said, ‘That’s the guy! That’s your nemesis, Brice!'”

“I guess someone at his table had also pointed out who I was at that time because we made eye contact and proceeded to silently stand up at our tables and just point at each other dramatically much to the confusion of the other people on the patio,” Wagner continued. “It’s a fun memory to hear from all the people who were with me or working that day, and Brice and I have been friends ever since.”

Wagner and her friends also made bingo sheets that year based on things they’d see around the bar and created an “overheard at 55 Days” document where they kept a running list of quotes.

Despite the hundreds of days spent at Cafe, Alford’s favorite part of the four-year challenge is all the friends he’s made along the way. Now that he’s no longer an undergrad, it’s not as easy to meet people as it used to be. As a result of 55 Days, he’s met lifelong friends and got the pleasure of getting to know Cafe’s owner, JR, who is one of the nicest people he’s had the pleasure of meeting.

In addition to the memories made at the bar itself, the 55 Days celebration is a beast of its own.

Wagner described the ~exclusive~ celebration as “a carnival where money doesn’t exist.” In addition to the endless teas and food, there’s always live music, yard games, and photo booths. Each year, the celebration is a little bit different and brings something new to the table.

As a 55 Days veteran, Wagner tries to find something to get overly competitive about, be it inflatable games, go-karts, ring toss games, and more.

This year, the celebration was hosted at Tussey Mountain. Alford noted that the bouncers have to usher hundreds of drunk people on school buses at the end of the day, which is an experience in itself.

“It’s like a herd of majestic, drunk buffalos being herded,” Alford explained. “I do not envy that task, but the bus rides back are always legendary.”

According to the Cafe experts, the Miami tea is always the way to go. Alford’s favorite food item is the chicken quesadillas, and the buffalo chicken dip is a close second. Wagner opts for Cafe’s wings or the fish and chips.

Both of them are also huge Corner Brothers stans, as they’ve gotten to know Matt and Tyler Greer over the years. According to Wagner, they’re not only talented and great people, but they know exactly how to interact with the crowd.

“My favorite Cafe band is a tie between My Hero Zero and The Corner Brothers,” Alford said. “I’ve known both for years so picking a favorite is like choosing a favorite child. It depends on the mood you want. For hype late night? MHZ all the way! For a more chill vibe and a little comedy to boot? The Corner Brothers.”

After spending 220 days at Cafe, the bar has certainly burned a hole in their pockets.

While Alford chose to plead the fifth, Wagner believes she spent around $700 this year due to out-of-town days when traveling for work. However, she’s completed the challenge for around $350 in the past. Money is temporary, but memories last forever, amirite?

As for the future, Wagner and Alford have one goal…

“Since 2019, Brice and I have said we plan on being the founding members of ‘the 555 club’ for doing 55 days for 5 years,” Wagner said. “Our timeline got shifted due to the 2020 and 2021 cancellations, but that’s still the goal. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.”

“All I know for certain is I won’t let Lizz beat me, so if she decides to do a 6th year, I’ll have to as well,” Alford laughed.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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