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Campus Steaks Partnering With Downtown Bars To Add Late-Night Eats

Downtown State College is filled with bars, but the late-night food scene has not matched its hunger needs. 

Joe Ford, the owner of Campus Steaks, saw the gap in options for last-call bites and sprung into action with a new business plan. 

As a Penn State family for almost 60 years, the Fords have spent ample time in State College. They understand the lines, covers, and lack of a menu that comes with most establishments. 

“A lot of these places on weekends, the line is out the door,” Ford said. “There are 200-300 people in line, then they get in there and some of these places don’t have a kitchen or stop serving at 10 p.m.”

Whether it is a fall football weekend or a bar crawl, Ford has come to understand that Campus Steaks’ Philly cheesesteaks are the only option of its kind downtown and have offered a new set of food since opening in 2023. 

“One of the reasons I came up here [was], not only to put out an authentic Philly cheesesteak, but the community,” Ford said. “Everyone works together.” 

The catering journey began when Ford had a conversation with the owner of The Shandygaff. The Shandygaff doesn’t have a kitchen, so the first deal for the delivery cheesesteak business was born.

“When people leave to get something to eat, they are not coming back,” Ford said.

In Ford’s eyes, the partnership works for both parties by bringing in business for Campus Steaks, while allowing people at the bar to stay longer since there are no food options. 

Campus Steaks has also partnered with The Brewery and is generating 20 to 30 more orders a day since implementing this service. Ford has also extended the kitchen’s hours to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday to accommodate last-minute orders after closing time. 

All customers have to do is scan the QR code on the table or poster in either bar, order their food under “carryout,” write which bar they are at in the special instructions section, and the Campus Steaks crew will deliver their food to the front door. 

Additionally, customers will receive a text notification when their food has arrived and is ready for pickup.  

Ford expressed that while Campus Steaks is only in two bars so far this semester, he is in contact with other establishments downtown to continue to grow the venture. 

A majority of the downtown bars and restaurants are small businesses, so finding ways to stay afloat year-round is a constant battle in a college town. However, the businesses attempt to come together when they can and continually build a community. 

“All the businesses support each other and this is just another way we are supporting each other,” Ford said. 

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a senior staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music or Penn State wrestling and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs in Beaver Stadium. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected].

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