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The Bare Facts Behind the Naked Egg Cafe: New Dining Experience in State College Area

by and on August 18, 2013 8:00 AM

Hiya McKenna sat on a chair in the corner of her new restaurant, sipped a cup of coffee and took a deep breath.

It was a little after 3 p.m. The breakfast and lunch rushes at the Naked Egg Cafe were over. She finally had a moment to relax and catch her breath.

“It's quiet now, which is nice,” she said. “It gives us a chance to get caught up and get some things done.”

The cafe, located just outside State College at 320 Pine Grove Road in Pine Grove Mills, has been busy since opening its doors on July 29.

“People have been very responsive,” said McKenna, the co-owner. “From the day we opened, we've had an excellent response to the restaurant. People from the neighborhood, other restauranteurs have supported us. It's been really nice to have that kind of support from everyone.”

The Naked Egg Cafe sits on the site of the former Watkins Dariette, a staple in Centre County for many years. The Dariette was a convenience store that featured ice cream as well as some breakfast and lunch items.

McKenna and co-owner Erik Toombs have transformed the Dariette into a modern, sleek cafe. According to McKenna, the transformation was not easy.

“Oh my gosh, it seems like forever. We actually took over the building in January,” McKenna said. “It was a long haul. It was a lot different. It was quite the challenge, working with the structure that was here. We wanted to make it functional and attractive.”

McKenna and Toombs both live in Pine Grove Mills. They'd always talked, she said, about opening a restaurant close to their homes. When the Dariette became available, they jumped at the opportunity to take over the space.

“My partner and I, we're neighbors, and we talked about the idea of opening up a restaurant in our neighborhood. That's how it came about. (Erik) has been involved in the restaurant business since he was 13 in some position or another,” McKenna said.

The two came up with an eclectic menu that features breakfast, lunch and take-out dinners. According to McKenna, all the food comes from local suppliers and everything is made from scratch. With a name like the Naked Egg, there are plenty of options that feature the incredible edible egg. There are omelets, Eggs Benedict and more traditional breakfasts like steak and eggs. If eggs aren't your thing, there are pancakes and waffles, too.

The lunch menu features burgers, cheesesteaks, deli-style sandwiches, salads and pizza.

McKenna pointed out that there's something for every taste.

“(The menu) is kind of a mix of my partner's taste and my taste. He's got a little bit of Southernness in him from his family. I'm all about the Eggs Benedict and the poached egg salad. We've blended our tastes, that's how it came about,” McKenna said.

McKenna and Toombs had the location and the menu. The one thing they didn't have, however, was a name for the restaurant.

“We kicked around a lot of different names early on. We've been working on this for a long time. We had a lot of different names — none of them good,” McKenna said. “My husband said, 'how about the Naked Egg Cafe?' The more we thought about it, the more we liked it.”

Since opening, McKenna has spent countless hours at the Naked Egg, but she's loving every minute of it.

“We've put in a lot of hours,” McKenna said. “It's a tough business. It's something you don't go into lightheartedly. If you do, you're not going to succeed.”

The Naked Egg Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Sunday menu features only breakfast.

For more information about the Naked Egg Cafe click HERE or call (814) 954-7341.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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