Faced with new temporary restrictions that closed The Corner Room for indoor dining to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it would have been easy for Hotel State College director of operations Curtis Shulman to be a real Grinch this year.
With a heart that is maybe a couple sizes too big, Shulman instead found some extra “Christmas cheer” and decided to take it to the streets. Dressed as the Grinch, he spread holiday spirit throughout last weekend in front of the iconic State College eatery. He portrayed the famous Dr. Seuss character after he realized the true meaning of Christmas.
Well, that is, if the original Grinch had worn a mask and latex gloves while maintaining social distance.
While shoppers were out making some gift purchases on the final weekend before the holiday, Shulman and his friend Jorge Jovel, who was dressed as Santa Claus, danced, sang and cheered their way into the hearts of passersby — offering candy canes for kids both big and small. They even gave out dog treats for all the little pups out making their way through a snow-packed State College.
“With all the sanctions, we needed to find some way to have fun and be relevant and spread Christmas cheer,” said Shulman. “It is corny, but it is helpful.”
For those who were looking for a little more of a warmup, the Corner Room staff was operating the Soup Sleigh, which sold soup, cookies and sausage sandwiches during the course of the weekend.
The Corner Room, and other Hotel State College eating establishments have pivoted during the shutdown, offering take-out, delivery, wine, beer and cocktails. Shulman said the Soup Sleigh was a hit.
“It has been really good; we have had tons of visitors. A lot of candy canes and dog treats were given out for free, so we have happy pups everywhere, and happy children,” said Shulman.
With speakers playing up-tempo music, Jovel’s dancing Santa act especially had people smiling, said Shulman. Remarkably, it was Jovel’s first time playing Santa, and he put his own spin on it.
“I came out here to show support. I said, ‘Let me get my boom box and do a little dance and have a good time,’” said Jovel.
“He has really gotten after it,” said Shulman. “A lot of people are trying not to smile as they drive by, but they can’t resist.”
Shulman said they are going to keep working to stay safe and make the best of it during the temporary shutdown. He expects to have the Soup Sleigh out again during the upcoming weekends.
Shulman said it will be “joyous” when the eateries can open back up and said he can’t wait for that day. Until then, he said he and his team are going to do “whatever we can do to keep people smiling and food coming out of the kitchen.”