The Corner Room has been closed since the statewide shutdown on dine-in service to combat the spread of COVID-19. But the iconic downtown State College restaurant is still finding ways to help community members in need.
Last week the restaurant at 100 W. College Ave. gave away 150 free meals, and this week it will be offering bags of groceries.
At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, The Corner Room will have 50 bags of groceries available for those who need them. Each family is asked to take only one bag, which will contain a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, one pound of bacon, potatoes and lettuce.
"As we all continue to navigate through these trying times, we must remain steadfast in our efforts to support our fellow community members," a post on the restaurant's Facebook page said. "Together, we will survive this pandemic and bounce back stronger than ever."
Community members are asked to maintain their distance from each other and refrain from socializing before and after picking up bags, in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
On March 23, The Corner Room gave away 150 free, packaged meals of spaghetti and meatballs, pasta and meat sauce and vegetarian pasta.
“The community is struggling right now and we need to do our part. I hope that all the meals are gone, that is my goal,” said Curtis Shulman, director of operations for Hotel State College.
He said the business will determine where to go and how to help the community more moving forward.
“The longer it goes the more people will be in need, so we are kind of playing it by ear, hoping that surrounding businesses do their part and do the same thing,” he said.
Curtis Shulman, director of operations for Hotel State College & Company, set out 150 free community meals the business prepared on March 23. He said he hopes surrounding business will continue to give support to the community. Photo by Vincent Corso | Centre County Gazette.
At least two other State College restaurants were inspired by The Corner Room's free meal offer.
Following The Corner Room's announcement of its plans, Cozy Thai, 232 S. Allen St., has offered community meals for takeaway on two occasions.
“When I heard that the Corner Room had started passing out lunches, I felt we could not do less. I thought it was a great idea,” Cozy Thai owner Suksan Ruangpattana said. “On Friday, March 20, five of the kitchen staff, myself and our delivery driver packed lunches for 150. We made Pad Thai Chicken (100 servings) and Vegan Pad Thai (50 servings). We served 100 people — adults and children — from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.”
On March 27, the restaurant gave out 150 boxes of pineapple fried rice — chicken and vegan.
Cozy Thai is currently open for business for takeout and delivery Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. (last delivery at 1:30 p.m.) and from 5 until 7:30 p.m. (last delivery at 7 p.m.); and on Saturday from noon until 7:30 p.m. (last delivery at 7 p.m.)
Suksan Ruangpattana, owner of Cozy Thai in State College, and staff served free meals to 100 people on March 20, and touted the efforts of nearby The Corner Room for offering free meals during the coronavirus situation. Photo by Vincent Corso | Centre County Gazett
On March 21, India Pavilion, 222 E. Calder Way, followed Cozy Thai with a similar announcement and gave away unlimited meals of chicken tikka masala, chicken curry and chana masala for three hours.
"Thank you The Corner Room for initiating such a wonderful program, giving away free meals for those who are in need," an India Pavilion Facebook post said. "As a part of the community, we would like to be a small part in helping our struggling local friends and families."
India Pavilion is open for takeout and delivery, with lunch available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5-9:30 p.m.
In Pleasant Gap, Rony's Place Restaurant and Pizzeria has been offering "Stir Crazy Pizza Kits" free for any child 12 or younger to make pizza at home.
"Being cooped up is not easy for kids (or their parents!) As grandparents of 2 busy little ones, amidst this wild time, we want to do our part to help families stay busy and fed," owners Rony and Suzanne Lopez wrote on Facebook. "We are building 'Stir Crazy Kits' so kids can make their own pizzas at home. And the best part, we want all of our kids to access them! Therefore they will be available free of charge."
The idea was inspired by Eepa's Pizza in Colorado, they said.
Donations are being accepted to be able to continue making them, and Rony's Place has received support from customers as well as Gerald Hoy Construction, V&S Construction, Matt Spearly Construction, Centre Insurance Group, So-Clean Exteriors, New Hope Church and Eby Paving to continue offering the kits.
The restaurant is also selling "Big Kid" kits that make a 16-inch pizza for $8, in addition to its takeout menu.
Rony's Place, 276 W. College Ave. in Pleasant Gap, is open for delivery and pickup. For pickup, customers stay in their cars and orders are brought out.
Centre County Gazette's Connie Cousins contributed to this story.