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What’s New (And Missing) Downtown Since You Last Visited Penn State?

Welcome back to Happy Valley, Penn Staters.

As Penn State football is set to take on Ohio this Saturday at Beaver Stadium, thousands of fans and alumni will be flocking back to State College for the first time in a long time.

Since you’ve been gone, the downtown landscape has changed with the addition of many new restaurants and businesses. Of course, we were sad to see some of our favorites close, too.

To make things easier, we kept track of all the new places State College has to offer this football season.

New Openings

Elixr

Emma Kappel | Onward State

Elixr Coffee opened in the former location of Saint’s Cafe in January. The cafe’s design based its aesthetic on the traditional Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi” due to owner Evan Inatome’s Japanese heritage. Hot beverages are sold in pink cups, and the shop proudly displays its custom ceramics. Our staff is a fan of its butterscotch latte, pour-over, double chocolate muffin, and its signature strawberry milk matcha.

The Corner Room Breakfast

Last summer, the Corner Room was renovated, and it reopened with a new lunch and dinner menu. In February, the beloved downtown staple brought back breakfast with revamped offerings. In addition to the classics, the new menu includes avocado smash toast, a bagel and lox platter, a variety of skillets, and a few other interesting dishes. Customers can order a mimosa, bloody mary, breakfast old fashioned, and a morning margarita, too.

Cow & Cookie

While not technically downtown, Cow & Cookie, which is a partnership between the Berkey Creamery and Penn State’s Bakery, opened in the HUB in March. The stand’s signature dessert is the “Quake,” which is a soft-serve ice cream treat blended with fruit or Penn State Bakery products. 

Our staff particularly enjoyed the Strawberry Cheesecake, Brownie, and Sugar Cookie quakes.

Lupita’s

An authentic Mexican restaurant opened up shop on West Beaver Avenue in April, marking its third location in the area. Lupita’s offers a variety of low-priced tacos, gorditas, sopes, empanadas, flautas, tamales, and more. In addition to its late-night hours, our staff particularly raved about its barbacoa and carnitas protein options.

Wendy’s

Hailey Stutzman | Onward State

Wendy’s fast food restaurant opened on University Drive in April. The chain restaurant opened in the former location of Burger King and doesn’t feature a drive-through.

Antifragile Brewing Company

A first-of-its-kind brewery opened on East Calder Way in April. Antifragile sells beer, kombucha, cocktails, and hard seltzers. The brewery has a small taproom feel that aims for a modern, elevated experience and has outdoor seating. Owners Lisa Harpster and John Schaffer’s goal was to bring craft beverages to the downtown area.

Poke Fresh

A Hawaiian poke bowl place opened on East Calder Way in May. Traditionally, poke features raw, diced fish tossed with rice, vegetables, and sauce and is commonly customized with other fresh ingredients. In addition to poke bowls, Poke Fresh sells burritos, bubble teas, ice cream waffles, smoothies, and milkshakes. Our staff appreciated the large portion sizes and taste of the Hawaii Fresh, Seafood Fresh, and Poke Fresh Special bowls.

The Whale Tea

A bubble tea shop opened on East Beaver Avenue in June. Located in the former storefront of Frutta Bowls, The Whale Tea sells a variety of milk tea and fruit tea beverages.

Raising Canes

Raising Canes opened at 228 E. College Ave. in June. The Louisiana-based chicken franchise is one of the first of its kind in Pennsylvania. The restaurant’s menu includes chicken fingers, fries, Texas toast, signature sauce, and more.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness opened its doors on Fraser Street in the former location of H&M in August. The fitness club is open 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday. On Friday, it closes at 9 p.m. On the weekend, it’s open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The facility includes four weight racks, more than 20 treadmills, and two rows of cycling machines, among other amenities.

Way Fruit Farm

Way Fruit Farm’s Downtown Market & Cafe opened at 252 E. Calder Way in August. The downtown location is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Way Fruit Farm is a 150-year-old family farm located in Stormstown that opened the downtown storefront to add to the fresh, locally-focused food offerings in State College.

The shop offers fresh produce, a soda wall, dairy products, specialty dried goods, and even a cafe.

Chew Chew Bun

An Asian bakery opened on East Beaver Avenue in the former location of Crust & Crumb last month. Chew Chew Bun has been serving up Taiwanese-inspired authentic pastries in State College since April 2019. It’s best known for its Portuguese egg tart and other goods like milk toast, crispy ham and cheese, and sweet taro.

Closures

While there are lots of exciting places that opened in the past year, we had to say goodbye to some of our favorites, too.

Mad Mex

Downtown bar and restaurant Mad Mex closed its doors in November. The South Pugh Street location is anticipated to become the site of a new six-story apartment building. It’s safe to say Penn Staters are still mourning the loss of the $4 house margarita during Happy Hour.

Saint’s Cafe

After more than two decades of serving coffee in downtown State College, Saint’s Cafe on Beaver Avenue closed in December. Voted State College’s Best Gourmet Coffee for years, the quaint cafe had a cult following of coffee lovers.

Crust & Crumb Cafe

After less than two years in business, Crust & Crumb on Beaver Avenue closed in May. The Artisan-inspired cafe was known for its signature coffees, gourmet sandwiches, and made-from-scratch pastries.

Amazon Pickup Store

The Amazon pickup store on South Allen Street closed in May after nearly five years in business. The store served as an even quicker way for Amazon Prime users to receive their packages. Rather than waiting for their belongings to arrive on their doorstep, people in the downtown area could pick up their packages at this location. Users would arrive at the store, scan a barcode, and retrieve their packages from a locker.

Woodring’s Floral Gardens

State College’s beloved flower shop on South Allen Street closed in May. The business decided to close this location and consolidate with its Bellefonte location that’s been in business since 1922. Despite the downtown closure, Woodring’s is still covering its current delivery area, just from a different location.

Future Openings

Several other businesses are expected to open in downtown State College sometime soon.

Ouef Bouef et Bacon

A French diner, Oeuf Boeuf et Bacon, is expected to open at 131 S. Garner St., in the former location of the iconic Baby’s Burgers & Shakes. The restaurant will serve breakfast classics all day. Customers can expect to see French staples, such as steak frites, in addition to a milkshake and ice cream soda bar.

Oeuf Boeuf et Bacon — which is French for “egg, beef, and bacon” — will tentatively open in September.

Squirrel & Acorn Bookshop

The Squirrel & Acorn Bookshop was expected to open on South Allen Street in August. It’s moving into the doors of The Animal Kingdom.

“From a stuffed animal shop to an independent bookstore. Imagination, stories, and whimsy continue to make a home at this beautiful space!” the store said in a post on its Instagram page, with a nod to its predecessor.

Mezeh Mediterranean Grill

Mezeh Mediterranean Grill is a chain that sells Mediterranean bowls, flatbread wraps, and pita pockets, among other items. It will open on East Calder Way underneath The Maxxen.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a senior biology major from York, Pa, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected] For the hijinks, always.

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