What can you say about Zeno’s that hasn’t already been said? Lots, because Zeno’s is just getting started. It’s barely cracked the tip of a beer-soaked iceberg, because icebergs with beer on them exist, somewhere.
Not only is Zeno’s one of the best places in America to have a beer, it’s the No. 1 place to catch live music in the borough of State College. Whether you’re hearing Haystack Lightning rip bluegrass on Wednesday nights, Doppler Poppins funkin’ with the best of ‘em on Thursday nights, Triple AAA Blues Band dippin’ down to the caverns of your soul on Fridays or Pure Cane Sugar lifting you to the universal morphic resonances of ecstasy on Saturdays, Zeno’s crushes the music scene. Crushes.
It’s obvious, then, why Zeno’s is getting ready to celebrate its 45th anniversary.
“Zeno’s has long specialized in quality beer and liquors, being the first to have the tastings, pairings, dinners and samplings that are standards today,” said David Staab, Zeno’s manager. “Touring bands have come and gone with the changing times ... bluegrass, funk, rock and Americana outfits have made regular appearances ... a Ryan Adams show still makes the rounds as a great story.”
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Staab references an often missed aspect of Zeno’s, that it shares a kitchen with The Corner Room, which has the same owner. So the food in Zeno’s is outstanding and can be paired with the dozens of beers available.
The 45th anniversary celebration starts at noon Oct. 7 and ends at 2 a.m., and there are a slew of bands and specialty items. Early music includes Chris Mincer, John Cunningham and Triple AAA Blues band. The late night bands include the incorporeal stylings of Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats, the above mentioned samadhi-inducing Pure Cane Sugar, Zeno’s legacy Andy Tolins and much, much more.
Along with the music, Zeno’s is going big with specialty beers, accessories and giveaways. A batch of six-month aged Zeno’s Rye from Otto’s Pub and Brewery will be available, kegs from the vault that haven’t been offered before, and even a 45th anniversary beer brewed by Hershey favorite Troeg’s Brewing Company.
Staab knows what he’s doing, but it’s because he’s operating from a place of authenticity, so Zeno’s and the 45th anniversary celebration have become an extension of his heart-space.
“My experiences with the staff and customers have shaped my adult life in ways that I continue to be thankful for,” Staab said, “most importantly meeting, working with, and marrying my wife Kathy of 17 years. It’s been good!”
Still, Staab says he couldn’t and doesn’t do it all by himself, and he gave a cordial shout out to his staff.
“My assistant managers throughout the years are the ones that really kept me going,” Staab said. “Carrie Mangan, Rob Swigart, Chris Brida and Sean Kramer all deserve a place on the Zeno’s Legacy Wall.”
Whatever the case, if Zeno’s announces it is throwing a party in its own honor, it’s a party that is most likely worth attending, assuming you like beer, good food and sweet local music. Zeno’s remains a State College music scene institution, and looks to have a home on Allen Street and to offer a warm embrace for years to come.
Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.
IF YOU GO
- What: Zeno’s 45th anniversary celebration
- When: noon Oct. 7
- Where: Zeno’s Pub, 100 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.zenospub.com