The corner room renovations aim to maintain a familiar atmosphere while providing “much needed upgrades”
The Corner Room is in the midst of an approximately two-week closure while the downtown restaurant undergoes renovations, making the oldest of the State College & Co. hotel properties the latest to suffer renovations over the past year.
Curtis Shulman, director of operations for Hotel State College, said the work will refresh the restaurant at 100 W. College Ave. while maintaining the atmosphere of long-standing comfort and familiarity that has made it “the traditional meeting place since 1926” for generations of residents. , Penn State students and visitors.
“We’re just making much-needed improvements to the facility…” said Shulman. “… Customers are really going to feel in a much cooler space. It will always look a lot like The Corner Room and it’s our top priority to make sure we maintain that familiarity and charm.
The corner room closed on Mondays. Shulman said the hope is to reopen on July 26.
The only major structural change is actually a piece of history: the addition of the restaurant’s original 1930s breakfast counter.
“There have been a couple in the last century. We chose to bring back the original, ”Shulman said. “We’re going to bring this breakfast bar back as a sort of tribute to the past.”
The old restaurant carpet has been replaced by a more aesthetic and more convivial laminate floor.
“Obviously, carpets in a restaurant over the course of a century, it’s pretty knotty what can get in there, so we’re trying to move away from it and just improve the overall aesthetic while still retaining that charm.” , Shulman said.
The rear seating area is also being redeveloped to have more open space that can accommodate meetings and other small gatherings.
Outside, repainting had already started in June to refresh the blue and white facade of the restaurant. Shulman said that due to the age of the building and the repairs that need to be done along the way, painting is a two to three month job.
“The exterior is really just paint, but with buildings this old and when there are so many shavings and stuff, it really takes a long time to fix,” he said. “It will look pretty much exactly the same (as before). “
Shortly after it reopens, Shulman said, The Corner Room is expected to resume serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Recently it has only offered breakfast at limited times on weekends.
A second phase of renovations will come later in the year when the kitchen is redesigned, which Shulman says will lead to an expanded menu.
“We want to get to a point where we have a little more of a high breakfast experience, high food experiences, but it’s all going to fall into that comfort food realm,” he said. “It’s going to be very comfortable for everyone, just great food that reminds you of home and Happy Valley.”
Since acquiring the companies in late 2019, Pat Croce & Co. – led by Penn State alumni Jeff Sorg and Michael Croce – has embarked on a long-term investment plan to modernize the properties of the Hotel State College around the corner. of West College Avenue and South Allen. Street while preserving their history.
Allen Street Grill and Chumley’s both underwent multi-month renovation projects, with the Grill reopening last September and welcoming Chumley customers in April.
Bill Pickle’s Taproom, Zeno’s, and Basement Nightspot needed less renovations, but they also received some upgrades.
“[Pickle’s] and Zeno’s and the Nightspot, the facilities are working, ”said Shulman. “They weren’t going to do a century of business without love. We do the maintenance in order to preserve their charm, but obviously we also have to bring them into the 21st century. So we’re going to make these thoughtful changes.
Pickle has new TV screens and a new sound system, and, as customers and passers-by have no doubt noticed, a new paint job on the exterior.
“We just wanted to be able to identify the space, make it a bit bold and pop more like a pub or bar would,” Shulman said.
In April, the State College Borough Council approved a request to install a pedlet which will support outdoor dining at Pickle’s during the warmer months. The seasonal walkway has been approved to be in place from Spring to Fall in the two parking spaces directly across from the 106 S. Allen Street Tavern, connecting to the sidewalk and bypassing the Pickle’s seasonal outdoor patio. The walkway will be accessible to the ADA and will have a fence along the street.
Shulman said the company is targeting the second week of August for the installation of the pedlet, noting that it has to wait for code approvals before it can be completed.
The Basement Nightspot is scheduled to reopen on August 5 and the nightclub at 112 W. College Ave. will have new lighting and sound systems.
“These will be some cool changes that you really notice more on the dance floor, but the overall setup is going to maintain a pretty similar expense,” Shulman said.
Meanwhile, for The Corner Room, the renovations aren’t nearly as big as the Grill and Chumley’s, but Shulman is thrilled the community is experiencing it.
“I think the community is going to receive him well, and they are going to feel good that their old warhorse, so to speak, is going to be here for another hundred years, just in a little more comfortable way,” he said.