7 iconic downtown State College businesses — including The Corner Room — are for sale

Seven iconic downtown State College businesses — including The Corner Room at 100 W. College Ave. — are for sale.

Along with The Corner Room, Hotel State College and Co. is selling its 13-room hotel, Spats at the Grill, Bill Pickle’s Tap Room, Zeno’s Pub, Chumley’s and The Basement Nightspot, co-owner and CEO Joe Shulman confirmed Tuesday.

“We have decided as an ownership group to put our properties on the market at this time. Several of our partners have been involved as owners since 1986 and are at a position in their lives where they want to retire,” he said in a statement. “Through new ownership we are confident that the businesses will continue to thrive for many more years to come.”

The businesses have been listed for sale since May, and the listing was updated in late June, according to crexi.com.

The press release noted the importance of the businesses and The Corner Room’s location as “one of the most recognized buildings in the State College and Penn State communities.”

Anchoring the corner of West College Avenue and South Allen Street, situated across the street from the main pedestrian entrance to Penn State’s campus, the building was built in 1855 and first known as Jack’s Roadhouse. A decade later, a hotel opened on the property. In 1926, what is now The Corner Room, the property’s flagship restaurant, replaced Jack’s Roadhouse. Six years later, the Allencrest Tearoom moved into the property’s second-floor banquet hall and eventually became the Allen Street Grill.

Other restaurants and bars opened in the following years, with Zeno’s Pub opening in 1972 beneath The Corner Room, and Chumley’s opening in the late 1980s.

Last year, Hotel State College/Allen Street Grill management opened Spats at the Grill, a joint venture with local restaurateurs Duke and Monica Gastiger, the former All-American Rathskeller and Spats Cafe & Speakeasy owners who now own ReFarm Cafe.

Hotel State College and Co. employs 250 people across its many businesses, said the press release.

“It is very important for us to maintain all of the positions in our company through this transition, everyone from the front-line folks to the management team,” Shulman said.

But the sale of seven staple State College businesses could shake the foundation of this already-wary, transient college town.

The All-American Rathskeller and Spats Cafe and Speakeasy closed in early 2018 when the new building owners decided not to renew their leases, leading to public outcry and bitter legal battles.

Another iconic eatery, Ye Olde College Diner, closed in spring 2018, with owner Dan Rallis citing rising rents in the borough — though he continues to make his famous grilled stickies. Herwig’s Austrian Bistro and Zola’s Kitchen and Wine Bar closed in 2018 also, with the latter losing its space to demolition making way for The Standard apartment building.

The seven Hotel State College and Co. businesses, which occupy 38,327 square feet on the 100 block of West College Avenue, are listed for $2.5 million, which includes the liquor license and all movable furniture, fixtures or equipment.

Charlene Friedman, CFO of Friedman Real Estate Group, which manages The Corner Room’s 100 W. College Ave. property for Calder Joint Venture, confirmed that the building itself is not for sale.

Perry Russ, the property’s real estate agent and executive vice president with Zamias Services in Johnstown, did not return calls for comment.

Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and town and gown relations for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.