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Otto’s Brews Up Thriving Business in State College

by on October 11, 2012 2:18 PM

In Nov. 2010, the country was in a recession, many businesses were closing or struggling to hang on…and Otto’s Pub & Brewery expanded into a new facility twice the size of its old one.

“Our old parking lot was always overflowing,” said co-owner Roger Garthwaite. “Our customers were very patient waiting for the new location.”

This year, Otto’s is celebrating 10 years of serving craft-brewed beer and locally sourced cuisine, currently at 2235 N. Atherton St. Diners at the expanded restaurant enjoy twice as much seating, a wood-fired oven, two full-service bars, displays of historic Pennsylvania brewery memorabilia, and lots more parking. Just two years after moving into the new building and being named Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County, Otto’s is now expanding again to increase brewery capacity and on-site retail sales.

Garthwaite credits Otto’s success to a three-part formula of family, community and quality. The “family” part begins with Garthwaite and his son-in-law, Charlie Schnable, who is co-owner and head brewer. A Penn State alumnus, Schnable is the man behind such brews as Red Mo, Black Mo, Slab Cabin and Spruce Creek, all named after local streams, as well as Mt. Nittany Pale Ale, namesake of the local landmark.

The “community” part of the formula comes into play with Otto’s support of the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” concept. The restaurant purchases bread, cheese, wine, vegetables, poultry, fish, meat, ice cream, and various sauces and condiments from area farmers and vendors such as Elk Creek Fish Hatchery, Harner Farm, Penn State Creamery, The Cheese Shoppe and Tait Farm. The chef uses fresh local seasonal ingredients and products in made-from-scratch dishes like the pulled pork sandwich, which features Hogs Galore smoked pork shoulder on a Gemelli Bakery roll.

The company also strongly believes in giving back to the community and supports the work of local nonprofits like the Youth Service Bureau, Centre Communities Chapter of the American Red Cross, ClearWater Conservancy and Coaches vs. Cancer at Penn State, Garthwaite said.

As for “quality,” Garthwaite said: “We feel like we have distinguished ourselves in the competitive craft beer market with consistent, quality brews.”

In addition to serving its beer in the restaurant, Otto’s also sells its beer as take-home singles, multi-packs, growlers and kegs. Otto’s beer is also available at other area restaurants and bottle shops.

Tracey M. Dooms is a freelance writer in State College and a contributor to Town&Gown.
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