Authentic Philly Cheesesteak Shop ‘Campus Steaks’ To Open In Downtown State College

Can we get a W in the chat for the “right outside of Philly” folks?

Campus Steaks, a new cheesesteak shop, is gearing up to open at 119 S. Pugh St. in the former location of Bradley’s Cheesesteaks & Hoagies.

Bradley’s closed its doors in September after 14 years in business, though owner Ben Lippincott expects its menu items to make an appearance at another one of his businesses, the Blue & White Pub.

Campus Steaks will serve up authentic Philly cheesesteaks, as the ingredients will be brought in fresh from the city. That way, students won’t have to make the three-hour trip home for the specialty item.

Joe Ford, one of Campus Steaks’ three founders, is no stranger to Penn State and hopes to fill the cheesesteak void in his vision for the downtown restaurant.

“I’ve been coming up here [to Penn State] since I was six years old,” Ford said. “Everyone around the world knows Philidelphia pretzels and cheesesteaks. It’s always been in the back of my head and what I wanted to do.”

Ford works alongside Mark Baker and childhood friend Steve Tracanna. Ford and Tracanna have known each other since they were 13 years old and grew up together. After living together at a time, it was evident that they had a common passion.

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“We’re always cooking,” Ford said. “We just want to have that atmosphere, you know. Bringing back that small town feeling again, where everybody knows each other, where you can have a nice conversation with them when they come in for their sandwich.”

The owners are aiming to create an environment where customers are known by their first names. They want the experience to be more than just a late-night snack.

In addition to the environment, the trio is prioritizing food quality. Since State College is located between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, they explained that there’s a common misconception about what a Philly cheesesteak is all about. They’re hoping to share its authenticity with the Penn State community.

Naturally, the shop’s slogan is “It’s a Philly Thing.”

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“People don’t know what the real deal is,” Tracanna said. “Down to the right roll, having the right meat, having the right choices. Some of the best places in Philly aren’t the ones that are touristy. They’re the corner shops. They’re the mom-and-pop shops.”

Campus Steaks’ menu will include the traditional options that you would find in the City of Brotherly Love. Meat options include beef or chicken, alongside a multitude of sides, including fried onions, three cheeses, and an authentic Lisio’s roll that’s slightly crusted on the outside and soft inside. Beef will be purchased straight from Philadelphia, too.

“By simplifying the menu, we create the opportunity for volume,” Tracanna said.

Campus Steaks will also offer fries, homemade potato chips, and onion rings as sides.

In addition to the grab-and-go options, the restaurant will offer catering packages to appeal to Penn State sports fans. The owners’ vision is to create an effortless way to make feasting during gameday convenient and delicious.

“We’d like to have a deadline by that Wednesday when they put their order in,” Ford said. “Saturday morning before the game, it’s already paid for. All they have to do is say their name. There’s your box, and go have fun.”

Whether you’re stopping in before heading home on a night out or planning a delicious pre-game tailgate, Campus Steaks will meet all of your needs, all while providing an atmosphere where you’re more than just a statistic at a big school like Penn State.

To further appeal to students, the shop will offer free delivery to folks on campus and in the surrounding area.

Campus Steaks is gearing up to open after winter break after slight remodeling. For more information check out its website and Facebook page.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Bruns

Mackenzie Bruns is a second-year at Penn State studying journalism and geography. She is from Macungie, Pennsylvania, which is approximately 2.5 hours away from State College (on a good day). When Mackenzie isn't writing for Onward State, you can find her scrolling through TikTok, probably watching cooking videos, or ranting about climate change. Want to reach her? Give her a holler through e-mail: [email protected].

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