In what was more of a reunion than an anniversary, Zeno's Pub celebrated 40 years of business Saturday night, with customers lining up at the door, proudly wearing Zeno's shirts from decades past.
Tucked away beneath the Corner Room, one would be quick to pass by the staircase leading down to Zeno's at 100 W. College Ave. However, the 40th anniversary of Zeno's was well-documented by eager customers.
The greetings among people at the top of the staircase were of laughter and memories. Reaching back in their minds to resurface names and faces, "regulars" of Zeno's were delighted to talk with people they hadn't seen in some 20 or 30 years since their own college days at Penn State.
Groups of past customers arrived in waves, with salt-and-peppered hair and wearing shirts from Zeno's 20th anniversary two decades ago. As a passing customer put it, "Zeno's is always new, but old."
What began as a shoe shop, Zeno's first opened its doors for business in 1972 and has since been serving an intricate mix of locals, alumni, graduate students and a handful of undergraduates.
General Manager David Staab, who began working at Zeno's in 1984 as a weekend janitor, said a few key aspects could summarize the sustainability of Zeno's across four decades.
"We have an environment and vibe that appeals to some students, some locals, and some visitors, so we can get a cool variety of people throughout the day, and throughout the year," Staab said.
Another boost the pub receives is its link with the Hotel State College complex, he said.
"We benefit greatly from being linked to the rest of Hotel State College," Staab said. "The kitchens and managers of the Corner Room and Allen Street Grill allow us to offer a variety of choices and satisfy a wide number of tastes."
The 40th anniversary celebration featured music from Biscuit Jam, Ted McCloskey & the Hi Fi's, Pure Cane Sugar and several others throughout the evening. Zeno's gave away complimentary snacks and sandwiches, as well as T-shirts and glassware.
In addition to these, Zeno's offered its traditional array of drinks, including the 33 taps of local, regional and exotic beers and lagers. The pub also has 350 bottles on hand, including some rare Belgians.
This is what kept Phil Amos and Becky Ferguson coming back to Zeno's, especially for the 40th anniversary.
Amos (graduate-law) and Ferguson, Class of 2008, said they have been coming to Zeno's since 2010 and 2007, respectively.
"I love that they have so many beers on tap and in bottle," Amos said.
Ferguson, a local State College resident, said she liked the variety, especially the entertainment on bluegrass night.
"I think what makes [Zeno's] popular is that they have remained true to the style that they have always been, and it keeps people coming back," Ferguson said.
Zeno's has been co-owned by John Cocolin and Mike Desmond since 1986 and they have kept to the original gameplan ever since.
The pub offers live music six nights a week, and ranges in performances of bluegrass, college rock, acoustics, blues and funk.