Milesburg’s landmark bar will close after more than 70 years in business

Stover’s Tea Room, along state Route 144 in Milesburg, will close this weekend.
Stover’s Tea Room, along state Route 144 in Milesburg, will close this weekend. adrey@centredaily.com

Stover’s Tea Room’s last call is quickly approaching.

The liquor supply is starting to run low, the regular patrons are coming in every day, sometimes twice, and those who have never been inside are going just to say they were at the iconic establishment once before it shut down.

The landmark bar, the last in Milesburg, will close Saturday after more than 70 years in business, Stover’s owner Cindy Bartley said.

She has fond memories of opening every day at 7 a.m. except on Sundays, serving generations of families and having a few drinks, too. Two longtime bartenders, Donnie and Beth, said Bartley one of the best people anyone could work for.

The feeling has resonated among the locals who have frequented Stover’s for a shot, beer or six-pack for decades.

“I’ll miss the camaraderie of the people, your friends stopping by and hearing the local gossip and everything else,” Frank Swancer said.

The memorabilia that cover the walls have been around for as long as anyone can remember. The murals in the pool room were painted with condiments, at least that’s been the story passed down for generations. And the bar’s name harkens back to a time before alcohol was sold because of prohibition.

The last day will feature a packed house, and the locals aren’t optimistic that there will ever be another bar in town. They’ll still be able to buy six-packs from Snappy’s, which bought Stover’s liquor license, but locals said that’s not the same as sitting down at the bar and watching a game with friends.

The reason Bartley is shutting down Stover’s is that despite the many patrons who have treated the establishment with respect, others haven’t been as responsible. Bartley doesn’t want to be liable if something bad were to happen.

“I just want to leave on a good note,” she said. “I’d never forgive myself if something awful happened.”

For the most part, Bartley said, she had a good 16-year run at Stover’s, which she bought after the late, “wonderful” Terry Brooks died. He bought it from the Stover family who owned the bar for several generations.

She most enjoyed the people who made the bar special.

“The public has been wonderful, and I’m sure they’re going to miss it,” she said. “Their ancestors were coming here years and years before me, and it’s a passed down thing. It’s been real fun, and so many people have been so interesting. There’s never been a dull moment, and people have come here from all walks of life and different countries. If I could do one thing, I wish I’d had a guest book and had people sign to have that.”

Bartley tried to sell the business as a turn-key operation, but a deal couldn’t be worked out with interested buyers. She instead sold the building and doesn’t know what the new owner will do when he takes over the property in 2018.

Bartley will also hold a public auction in March to sell memorabilia and equipment from the bar, an opportunity for patrons to have a piece of history from one of the first bars and possibly the last one in Milesburg.

That’s not her focus, though, because she’s looking forward to everyone’s last day together.

“A lot (of people) want to come back and reminisce,” Bartley said. “It’s a good way to part.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli