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2016-11-01 / Features

Best of State College 2016

Maggie Anderson, Julia King, Samantha Lauriello and Robyn Passante | Photos by Matt Fern


After three months of voting this summer, we ended up with more votes than ever before in our annual “Best Of” readers’ survey! We set right to work tallying up the thousands of votes and finding out what you think is the “Best Of State College.” Now, here it is! From the next best thing to the best of both worlds, we got the lowdown on what puts each winner in all 108 categories at the top. Here are the people, places and things that are No. 1 in State College!


Food Restaurants & Drinks


Best Appetizer
Happy Valley Brewing Company
Though not every vote for HVBC as “Best Appetizer” mentioned a dish, many of them did — and one stood out by far. The Short Rib Nachos are nothing short of perfection on a plate — a very large plate — though most of the app menu pairs just as well with the barn’s brews. happyvalleybeer.com

Best Pancake/Waffle/Crepe
Best Breakfast Place
Best Wait Service

The Original Waffle Shop
Many may not know State College’s prime breakfast spot was born from a young Greek man with an American dream. With an objective to deliver “fantastic food, fair prices and a great experience,” the Waffle Shop has become a State College staple. While the name showcases the shop’s delicious waffles, anything on the menu will leave you satisfied. originalwaffleshop.net

Best Salad
Fiddlehead
A healthy haven perched amid the downtown hustle and bustle, Fiddlehead makes for a satisfied stomach and a happy heart. Choose a store-created combination or make your own mix, but beware: The endless topping choices may result in a salad that will last for days. Along with toppings comes dressings galore, including unique options like avocado lime and spicy Sriracha vinaigrette. Try the Oh So Salmon for the perfect mix of green and protein. fiddleheadstatecollege.com

Best Sushi
Kamrai Thai & Sushi
Though “Thai” comes first in this Lemont restaurant’s name, the sushi part is what really stands out for our voters. With enormous and gorgeous rolls appearing out of the kitchen like magic, diners have come to expect the best at this Asian eatery in a Victorian house. According to many voters, the White Dragon roll is one of the best. 901 Pike St., Lemont

Best Soup
Best Caterer

Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering
Our readers have voted Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering “Best Caterer” every year since 2004, an astounding run based on its reputation for exceptional service and its diverse menu offerings. Plus seasonal soups, including the favorite Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque, pull local flavors together in combinations so savory they’ve garnered Best Soup honors, too. harrisonsmenu.com

Best Local Hot Sauce
Bonfatto’s
With multiple wins at the 2016 World Hot Sauce Awards and the 2015 Hot Pepper Awards — not to mention a 2007 WingFest title — Bonfatto’s hot sauces deliver the heat. But owner Dave Letterman knows full flavor is what really matters. “When I was developing the sauces, I put a lot of focus on the flavor before I bothered developing the heat element,” he says. That results in versatile sauces that can be used on anything, from grilling to desserts. From the first creation, Original Wing Sauce, to creative concoctions like the award-winning Hoppy Verde, the Bellefonte eatery’s sauce game is on fire. feeltheflavors.com

Best Cup of CoffeeRothrock CoffeeRothrock Coffee
Best Coffee Shop

Rothrock Coffee
Open for less than a year, Rothrock Coffee has already brewed up a winning concept. “We pride ourselves on building a better coffee community in town,” says owner Jamie Bestwick. Bestwick and his co-owner Ronnie Napolitan control the coffee from bean to cup with an in-house roaster and frequent taste tests. Bestwick suggests trying the Cortado, an equal parts coffee and milk drink, or the cold brew, which is poured on nitro for a smooth mouthfeel and nutty flavor. But coffee is just the beginning. “Our goal was to build a community space,” says Bestwick. “For people to come and talk and catch up with friends, that’s great quality of life.” rothrockcoffee.com

Best Pasta Dish
Best Pizza
Best Italian

Faccia Luna Pizzeria
The savory flavors in these pasta and pizza plates will sweep you off your feet and carry you to the Italian countryside. Try the Mushroom Ravioli, a plate of doughy pockets stuffed with deliciously cooked mushrooms smothered in a creamy Alfredo sauce. If you can’t shake a pizza craving, bite into the Genovese, a thin-crusted delight with a savory pesto sauce. Don’t forget to explore the starters, salads and other options on the menu at this perennial “Best Of” winner. faccialuna.com

The Field Burger & TapThe Field Burger & TapBest Burger
Best French Fries
Best New Restaurant

The Field Tap & Burger
The newest offering in Toftrees garnered a following quickly — and not just from hotel guests. The Field’s burgers, fries and shakes have topped the charts this year. “We’re so happy to have the support of the locals,” says Laura Phillippi, director of sales and marketing for Toftrees Golf Resort. “We see a lot of the same faces in here throughout the week.” Since opening in September 2015, The Field has worked to incorporate more and more local items into the menu, as well as the restaurant itself. It’s that local focus, whether it’s reclaimed barn wood in the décor, farmland art by Centre County residents on the walls or ingredients from area farmers on the plates, that keeps local residents returning to The Field.
toftrees.com/restaurant

Best Artisan Bread
Gemelli Bakers
Gemelli Bakers is on a four-year run as Best Artisan Bread winner, and it’s easy to see, smell and taste why. Its freshly made sourdough, ciabatta, pretzel dough, babka and tons of other breads are the perfect complement to any meal. Gemelli’s small shop on McAllister Alley is a great place to grab a loaf, but its breads can be found in several area restaurants and farmers’ markets as well. 129 McAllister Alley

Best Sub
Jersey Mike’s Subs
For four years in a row, Jersey Mike’s has rolled over the competition to snag “Best Sub” honors. For a true Jersey Mike’s experience, order your favorite combination of fresh meats and cheeses topped “Mike’s Way” with onions, lettuce, tomato, oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and salt. Patrons also swear by the cherry pepper relish to give any sub or wrap an extra kick. jerseymikes.com

Irving'sIrving'sBest Bagel
Best Breakfast Sandwich

Irving's
While they’re known for their breakfast, an Irving’s bagel is perfect for any time of day. These house-made bagels are boiled and baked to perfection right before you buy them. The variety of flavors, as well as the selection of cream cheeses, is sure to satisfy anyone. Not to mention, they also carry mouthwatering sandwiches, freshly ground coffee, crisp salads, hot soups and natural smoothies. But here’s all you really need to know: The everything bagels have toppings on both top and bottom. irvingsstatecollege.com

Best Dessert
The Deli Restaurant
The Deli is the place to go when a sweet tooth needs to be satisfied, whether through a slice of Ten Pound Apple Pie, chocolate chip cheesecake or any number of other fresh favorites. The Killer Cookie for Two is a double (maybe triple) serving of sugary perfection that’s been on The Deli menu for decades. Baked to order, the giant chocolate chip walnut cookie is topped with ice cream, a sliced banana, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. So good it’s worth skipping dinner. dantesinc.com

Best Gluten-Free Item (Tie)
Pump Station Café
In the old Texaco gas station in Boalsburg, Pump Station Café has been serving up breakfast, lunch and snacks since 2005. Their scrumptious baked goods are all made right in the café, including gluten-free muffins in a variety of flavors. Plus, a drive-through makes caffeinating and noshing easier than ever. pumpstationcafe.com

Best Place for a Business Lunch
Best Brewpub
Best Vegetarian Offerings
Best Kids’ Menu
Best Bar for the Over-30 Crowd
Best Beer Selection
Best Local Craft Beer
Best Bartender (Mike Knipe)
Best Gluten-Free Item (Tie)

Otto’s Pub & Brewery
“We love beer, people, and local foods.” That is the message under which Otto’s Pub & Brewery on North Atherton Street has been operating for the last 14 years. With a menu chock full of options and great locally brewed craft beer, it is no surprise why Otto’s draws a crowd on any given night of the week. The variety of menu options is influenced by Otto’s mission to use the best local and fresh ingredients. “We listen to what our customers are asking for and follow trends from all over the country,” says Otto’s co-owner Roger Garthwaite. Popular flavors of beer like Apricot Wheat and Mt. Nittany Pale Ale, which can also be picked up in bottles, cases and kegs, are the perfect complement to your meal. Premiere waitstaff and bartenders like “Best Bartender” Mike Knipe are there to make sure your experience is a memorable one. “Our primary goal is outstanding customer service for anyone that comes into the restaurant,” says Garthwaite. “Our customers are coming to have a relaxing time, and our goal is to make that happen.” ottospubandbrewery.com

Best Steak
Best Seafood

Kelly’s Steak & Seafood
It’s all right there in the name — the Boalsburg restaurant with the cow on top serves up decadent steaks and rich seafood dishes. SCM readers have known this for years — Kelly’s has won “Best Steak” since 2005 and “Best Seafood” since 2007. Here’s to another 10 years of husband-and-wife chefs Sean and Tien Kelly keeping their creative flavors coming out of the kitchen! kellys-steak.com

Best Burrito
Chipotle
Whether you have a favorite burrito combination, taco creation or salad mixture, this nutritious franchise is a downtown must-try. With your choice of meat, beans, rice, salsa and cheese on an enormous tortilla, Chipotle has this “Best Of” category all wrapped up. chipotle.com

Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt
Penn State Berkey Creamery
The Berkey Creamery has been Penn Staters’ and State Collegians’ spot of choice for frosty treats since 1865, and with flavors like Alumni Swirl, Peachy Paterno and Keeney Beany Chocolate, it’s easy to see why. The Creamery works closely with Penn State’s Department of Food Science to deliver delicious ice cream — and educational benefits as well. With frozen fare this good, here’s to another 150 years of tradition. creamery.psu.edu

Best Delivery Service
OrderUp, a Groupon company
When it’s late at night and every restaurant near you seems to be closed, or early morning and you can’t yet part with your bed, OrderUp always has your back. The famous hometown startup food site’s features include a list of restaurants that deliver to your address, as well as a menu that allows you to narrow your search to specific types of cuisine. Many wonder why Gumby’s Pizza Pokey Stix doesn't have a category of its own, seeing as it’s an OrderUp classic among the university community. orderup.com

Best BarbecueDoan's Bones BarbecueDoan's Bones Barbecue
Doan's Bones Barbecue
For authentic barbecue smoked “low and slow,” the favorite is Doan’s Bones Barbecue. Once a small roadside offering, this family-owned operation now has two locations, on West Beaver Avenue and in Petersburg, along with a thriving catering business. Whether you’re craving brisket, ribs, pulled pork or chicken, Doan’s delivers it “the real deal” way. And don’t skip the baked beans — they’re a Doan’s side favorite. doansbones.com

Best Ethnic
India Pavilion
With a lunch buffet featuring a wide selection of Northern Indian dishes, a weekend buffet that includes Southern Indian specialties and a dinner menu to satisfy any taste, India Pavilion has been a downtown favorite since opening in 1997. indiapavilion.net

Best Mexican/Southwest Grill
Rey Azteca
Rey Azteca takes you just south of the border with its authentic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant’s colorful decor and images of mariachi bands makes for a complete dining experience. The Special Dinner comes highly recommended by the staff — it includes an enchilada, chalupa, chile relleno, taco, tamale, Spanish rice and refried beans. For a dish not as common this far north, try the Mole Ranchero or Poblano, a true Mexican specialty. reyaztecastatecollege.com

Best Bottle Shop
The Hop Shop
“The beer nerds have come to know, if it’s going to be anywhere in State College, it’s going to be here,” says JP Mills, director at Dantes Restaurants Inc, of The Hopshop Beer Market under The Deli Restaurant. The appropriately cellar-like space holds more than 800 unique selections, says Mills. Plus, rotating taps allow for growler fills of serious suds. dantesinc.com

Best AsianCozy Thai BistroCozy Thai Bistro
Best Lunch Special

Cozy Thai Bistro
With a stylish, inviting atmosphere and a menu filled with delicious Thai favorites, Cozy Thai has become the go-to place for Asian cuisine. Their lunch special is the star of the show. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., pick any delicious entrée, like spicy Panang Curry or the very popular Pad Thai, and then combine it with your choice of rice and a side soup or salad — all for $7.95. cozythaibistro.com

Best Outdoor Dining
American Ale House
The American Ale House has already solidified itself as one of the best places to grab a bite to eat in Centre County with its comfortable laid-back atmosphere and delightful menu options, but the real star of the show is the outdoor seating. Set back in the beautiful neighborhood of Toftrees, enjoy the bloody mary bar and Sunday brunch options while taking in the lush Pennsylvania greenery.
americanalehouse.net

Best Fine Dining
Best Romantic Dining
Best Wine List

Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar
With Executive Chef Andrew Hufnagel at the helm, Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar has taken on a new life while retaining its classic charm. Seasonal menus feature the best area farms have to offer on gorgeous plates with decadent flavors. The College Avenue restaurant is a favorite for special occasions — or even a regular date night. Plus, the wine list is beautifully curated, with bottles hailing from around the world and kept ready to drink via the WineKeeper tap system. zolakitchen.com

Best Sunday Brunch
Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining
Starting at 9 a.m. — earlier than many Sunday brunches in State College start — Barrel 21 serves up hot and cold deliciousness for a buffet-style brunch. From pastries and bagels to desserts and fresh fruit, the fare is a favorite for starting Sunday right. Plus, there’s a bloody mary bar for those wishing to wash away the effects of Saturday night. barrel21distillery.com

Best Buffet
Ni Hao
When you’re in the mood for Asian food but don’t quite know which dish, try Ni Hao, where you can pick from at least 25 kinds of sushi, three hot bars of Asian entrees, Dim Sum, desserts and more. Or select your perfect combo of fresh ingredients and watch as the Ni Hao chefs cook it to order, Chinese wok, grill or Hibachi style. nihaostatecollege.com

Best Happy Hour
Gigi’s Southern Table
The cocktail scene at Gigi’s, which we wrote about in our August issue earlier this year, is a serious one — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happy! Every weekday at 4 p.m., the prices on wines, drafts and whiskey jars drop for a couple hours. It’s all part of that Southern charm. gigisdining.com

Best Bloody MaryChamps Sports GrillChamps Sports Grill
Best Sports Bar
Best Sandwich

Champs Sports Grill
There’s a lot to love about Champs, whether it’s Stanley’s Wonder Wings, the ability to watch any game that’s on, or the extensive beer list. But topping the list are the bloody marys, which are served with a beer sidecar ­and are so good Champs bottles and sells the proprietary mix, and the sandwiches, found under “Special Teams” on the menu. Try the Linsanity, a take on a banh mi, and the Sandy Koufax, an eggplant and cheese mashup that requires both your left and right hands. champssportsgrill.net

Best Mixed Drink
Big Spring Spirits & Distillery
With an array of spirits distilled from the excellent waters of Big Spring in Bellefonte, Big Spring Spirits knows a great drink starts with great products. Head distiller Phil Jensen says Big Spring is getting ready to release a new aged whiskey, hopefully before Thanksgiving or shortly after. The tasting room’s best-selling mixed drink is the Milesburg Mule, also called ‘The Coalie,’ which includes Big Spring Vodka, Tait Farm ginger shrub, ginger beer and a house-made ginger syrup. bigspringspirits.com

Best Wings
Wings Over Happy Valley
We take wings seriously in this sports-crazed college town, and Wings Over Happy Valley is rated tops for its sticky-fingered specialty. Here wings are made to order, with 20 different sauces and five dry rubs. They also serve boneless wings, ribs and a host of food combos to please every palate at the party. wingsover.com


Stores & Shopping


Best Grocery Store
Best Place to Buy Natural/Organic Food
Best Customer Service
Best Gluten-Free Item (Tie)

Wegmans
Grocery shopping is a weekly chore we look forward to at Wegmans. Boasting quality meats and cheeses, fresh produce, a wide range of ethnic cuisine and bakery treats to die for — not to mention a full takeout section with all of your favorite foods — Wegmans has it all. The large selection of natural and organic food, as well as gluten-free options, is one of the store’s many highlights. With unique products and a friendly staff, Wegmans has solidified its place in the hearts of Centre County residents. wegmans.com

Best Farmers Market
Boalsburg Farmers Market
It’s no wonder the year-round Boalsburg Farmers Market received the most votes — with everything from local meat and cheese to gorgeous fruits and vegetables, this market has it all. Plus, with events like the Golden Basket Chefs Competition and various cooking demonstrations throughout the outdoor season, this market is the place to be on Tuesday afternoons. boalsburgfarmersmarket.com

Best Jewelry Store
Moyer Jewelers
No matter the occasion, Moyer Jewelers has you covered when it comes to finding the perfect gift. “We have fun helping people celebrate their special moments,” says Lori Moyer, co-owner of Moyer Jewelers. Since 1949, State College has trusted this downtown jeweler to provide all types of quality stones and metals. To complete the store’s community feel, the “Penn State Shop” features the finest Nittany Lion jewelry. moyerjewelers.com

Appalachian OutdoorsAppalachian Outdoors

Best Local Clothing Store
Appalachina Outdoors
For all of your outdoor needs, Appalachian Outdoors has you covered. State College’s lush mountains make for plenty of room for adventure, and this local clothing store simply helps you take advantage of it. With brands such as The North Face, Adidas, Columbia, Patagonia and more, everything you need is here. If you’re not one for adventure sports, Appalachian Outdoors can help you combat the cold of a State College winter. appoutdoors.com

Best Shoe Store
Rapid Transit Sports
State College residents know that the best place to get your shoes for all sports and adventure needs is right downtown at Rapid Transit Sports. With customer service of the highest degree, sales associates will spend the time with you to assess your stride, foot shape and daily activity in order to find the best kicks for your feet. In addition to footwear, Rapid Transit offers a wide variety of sports equipment, activewear and Penn State memorabilia. facebook.com/RapidTransitSports

Best Bank/Credit Union
PNC Bank
All of your banking needs at a one-stop-shop — PNC has a package that works for everyone. The bank caters its packages to the community, including special offers and banking help for students. Stop by one of the State College locations to get all of your questions answered by a friendly staff. pnc.com

Best Furniture Store
Wolf Furniture
With everything from couches to mattresses to bookcases and accent tables, Wolf Furniture has been making houses feel like home since 1902. The showroom and store on Valley Vista Drive features gorgeous pieces in all kinds of styles, but you can also choose your own fabrics for a custom piece.
wolffurniture.com

Best Spa/Jacuzzi/Pool Dealer
Tubbies Patio & Spa
Tubbies has been helping State College residents cool off and relax with pools, spas and patio furniture since 1974. As the oldest spa provider in State College, their philosophy is to never promise more than can be delivered but give customers more than they expect. Combined with great products and customer service, it is no surprise that Tubbies is the local favorite for spa and patio needs. tubbies.biz

Best Place to Buy a Christmas Tree
Tannenbaum Farms
Martha and Craig Weidensaul share a love of Central Pennsylvania and, perhaps more importantly, trees, which has helped keep their tree farm going these 40-plus years. Visiting Tannenbaum to cut a tree — most of them are firs — is a holiday tradition for many families. The farm will open Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. tannenbaumfarms.com

Best New Car Dealer
State College Motors
For new wheels, our readers’ favorite car dealer in Happy Valley is State College Motors, where drivers can select from hundreds of vehicles and take advantage of a helpful, attentive and professional service team as well. For those in the market for a new Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan, Volkswagen or Volvo, State College Motors is the place to go. statecollegemotors.com

Best Place to Buy GiftsKatie Dawes at Kitchen KaboodleKatie Dawes at Kitchen Kaboodle
Kitchen Kaboodle
Kitchen Kaboodle has been your one-stop gift shop for anyone and any occasion since 1983. With a wide collection of crafty kitchenwares, home accessories and creative gadgets, you don’t have to be a culinary master to find something that will draw your eye. Don’t see what you’re looking for? The staff will work to get it for you and encourages shoppers to help them decide which products to provide.
kitchenkaboodlepa.com

Best Used Car Dealer
Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships
Any State College resident can attest to the importance of having a trustworthy vehicle to get you through the icy winter season. Blaise Alexander provides the community with high-quality used cars to get you where you need to be. Their customer service is almost as efficient as their vehicles. Stop in to get your questions answered and drive off prepared for any weather. blaisealexander.com

Best ATV/Motorcycle Dealer
Kissell Motorsports
Kissell Motorsports is the premiere destination for those longing to feel the wind in their face while cruising fast down the highway. They offer the newest models in some of the best brands such as BMW, Ducati and Vespa. And the service doesn’t end there — with group rides organized in the warmer months, Kissell keeps you up to speed. kissellmotorsports.com


Places & Services


Best Car Wash
RedLine Speed Shine
From pollen in the spring to salt in the winter, vehicles in Happy Valley take a beating, and RedLine Speed Shine is our readers’ favorite for turning that grime to gleam. Its three locations in State College offer every which way to clean your car — from touchless washes to full-service detailing. The North Atherton location also has the area’s only dog wash, so you can pretty your pup without making a mess of your tub. redlinespeedshine.com

Best Health Club/Gym
Best Yoga Instructor

The PYP Studio
Kerry Bestwick

What better way to maintain fitness motivation than by surrounding yourself with people who share a common goal? That’s Power Your Possibilities Studio’s goal — to bring the community together in a motivational sense. Studio owner and yoga instructor Kerry Bestwick is a “certified embodied life coach, holistic health practitioner, trainer, mentor and advisor to the community, local schools, celebrities, professional athletes and beyond,” according to the studio’s website. For a new take on health and fitness, try PYP’s inspiring approach. thepypstudio.com

Best Spa
Best Place for a Manicure

Designer’s Denn Salon & Spa
Designer’s Denn is the place for a comfortable atmosphere, pampering and perfect nails. Opened by Melinda Hooper to drive her desire for a city-like atmosphere in State College, Designer’s Denn boasts a premier staff up to date on today’s trends. Relax and enjoy your manicure in the newly renovated nail room with some of the cleanest conditions around. designersdenn.com

Best MassageArtemis Massage StudioArtemis Massage Studio
Best Massage Therapist

Artemis Massage Studio
Alexa Krepps

Seven years, six rooms and eight therapists: Those small but mighty numbers add up to two “Best Of” wins this year for Artemis Massage Studio. Owner Whitney Polakowski says they serve more than 4,000 people a year, but she tries to get to know each and every one. “Our strength — and what our therapists love most — is developing that relationship with the client,” she says. The therapists at Artemis offer everything from basic Swedish and deep tissue massage to advanced techniques like Thai massage, oncology massage and ashiatsu barefoot massage, in which the therapist uses her feet instead of her hands. “Best Massage Therapist” Alexa Krepps “provides a lot of really amazing therapies here,” says Polakowski, including myofascial release and posture analysis. artemismassagestudio.com

Best Hair Salon for Women
Viva Bella Salon
From basement studio to “penthouse” salon, Viva Bella climbed the beauty world ladder all through family-oriented means. Two colleagues had a vision of a salon that held high beauty standards and even higher customer satisfaction standards, and that’s exactly what they created. On day one, the salon consisted of four stylists. The total number is now 15 — including the original four. Between promotions, discounts and tiered pricing, Viva Bella makes sure a salon treatment won’t break the bank. vivabellasalon.com

Best Place for a Men’s Haircut
Owen’s Barber Shop
Owen’s Barber Shop has been snipping and clipping coifs in State College since 1961. At Owen’s, cuts are simple and traditional, appointments are not necessary, conversation is lively and payment is cash only. Tucked behind Wegmans’ Market Café, the shop is set to open a second location on the Benner Pike in Bellefonte near Klaban’s Home Furnishings in February 2017. owensbarbershop.com

Best Park
Tom Tudek Memorial Park
There are endless possibilities for relaxation and fun in the 87-acre Tudek Park. Whether you want to shoot some hoops, jog along the pathways, grab some lunch under the pavilions or take in the sights at the Snetisinger Butterfly Garden, there is something here for everyone. And that includes your furry family members! The dog park is one of the most popular spots in Tudek Park. crpr.org

Best Playground
Bernel Road Park
Most people call this 74-acre park in Patton Township the “airport park” — the airport-themed playground offers high-flying fun for all ages. Plus, the park features great walking trails that loop around the playground, which really is the star of the show. crpr.org

FUSE ProductionsFUSE ProductionsBest Local Theater Group
FUSE Productions
Since 2013, FUSE Productions has taken the State College theater scene by storm, adding big and sometimes difficult musicals to its already diverse offerings. “Each theatre company has their own niche,” says Executive Director Richard Biever. “We bring musicals that have not been produced before in State College.” The company, which features both local and New York talent in its productions, puts on a range of shows, “from more traditional My Fair Lady to edgier stuff like Assassins,” says Biever. Next year, they’ll stage Cabaret Feb. 16-18 and Camelot June 22-25. fuseproductions.org

Best Greenhouse/Nursery
Sammis Greenhouse
Though the family-run Sammis Greenhouse in Centre Hall is closed right now, the hundreds of varieties of annuals, perennials and vegetables will soon be getting ready for spring. Check back mid-April when the greenhouse will begin selling the 100,000-plus cuttings that will be started in December. sammisgreenhouse.com

Best Place to See Live Music
The State Theatre
This community-owned nonprofit organization is home to State College’s premier arts scene. From musicals to children’s shows and more, The State Theatre has something for everyone. Executive Director Greg Ray has been working hard to improve the community arts center and has been overwhelmed with the response. “The story of The State Theatre is the story of our community,” he says. “This is a success story about the community putting energy and effort into their performing arts center, and because of that everyone is having a better experience.” Ray and his team hope to continue to bring bigger names to the downtown stage as well as supporting local arts efforts. On Dec. 3, The State Theatre will hold its 10th anniversary show featuring homegrown talent performing hits from multiple decades. thestatetheatre.org

Best Charter/Private School
State College Friends School
Serving children from preschool through eighth grade, the Friends School has been a part of the State College scene since 1980. Focusing on the Quaker education tradition of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship, this private school works to create successful learners and a strong community. scfriends.org

Best Retirement Community
Foxdale Village
Moving from your own home to a retirement home can be difficult, but Foxdale Village makes the transition easier by offering its residents the same things they used to enjoy on their own. From a resident-managed woodshop for those who like to tinker and build, to lots of gardening opportunities, it’s no wonder Foxdale Village takes top honors year after year. foxdalevillage.org

Best Fundraising Event (Beyond THON)
Centre Gives
For all of the amazing nonprofits in our region, there’s one organization that
helps them all. Centre Foundation’s annual Centre Gives event raised nearly $1 million last year benefiting more than 130 organizations. “Centre Gives has raised the public profile of the great work our community organizations do,” says development and events coordinator Irene Miller. Since its inception in 1981, Centre Gives has raised $16 million for local nonprofits through generous donations by State College residents. centregives.org

Best Hiking TrailMt. NittanyMt. Nittany
Mount Nittany
Mount Nittany, home to the most beautiful view of the State College area, is a hike fit for any level hiker. Take the whole family for some outdoor fun, run the trail for change in your workout routine or bring your camera and snap some scenic shots. No matter how you plan to spend your afternoon at Mount Nittany, you’re in for a treat when you get to the top. The fresh air and thick trees make you feel as if you’re on top of the world — and indeed, you are. hikemountnittany.com

Best Conference Center
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
Since opening in 1994, The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center has become the place to host a conference, a wedding, a special event, out-of-town guests or just a delicious dining experience for your family. With 300 rooms, two top-quality restaurants and dozens of conference rooms and banquet halls, The Penn Stater is our readers’ No. 1 place to educate, entertain and make memories. thepennstaterhotel.psu.edu

Woodring's Floral GardensWoodring's Floral GardensBest Florist
Woodring's Floral Gardens
Whether you’re looking for fresh-cut flowers, arrangements, green plants or floral gifts, Woodrings has it all. This florist, which has been catering to the community for over 90 years, offers a vibrant selection of all types of plants. Brighten up your home with an arrangement or houseplant from the store. The staff knows just how to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. woodringsfloral.com

Best Community Space
The Arboretum at Penn State
Clean winter snow, sweet spring flowers, luscious summer greens and crisp fall leaves — The Arboretum at Penn State has a treat in store for every season. This space aims to celebrate the history and significance of plants. Gardens, groves and living plant collections come together to create a truly beautiful outdoor display. Families enjoy the Arboretum as a place to spend quality time together in the outdoors. Students take advantage of the warm months by studying outside. There’s truly something for everyone. arboretum.psu.edu

Best Museum/Gallery
The Palmer Museum of Art
The Palmer Museum of Art has been a fixture of Penn State University since 1972. After a series of expansions, the building now features eleven galleries, an auditorium, study room and sculpture garden. Along with its permanent displays, the museum presents exciting rotating and temporary exhibitions throughout the year. European paintings, American portraiture and ancient Asian ceramics are just a few of the treasures gracing the halls of The Palmer Museum. palmermuseum.psu.edu

Best Place for After-School Activities
State College YMCA
Whether your family needs after-school care to fill the gap before the office closes or your kids want to explore their interests, State College YMCA is the favorite afternoon option for kids. From its popular basketball program to its swim lessons to its crafts, volunteering projects and homework help, the Y’s team leaders help local kids learn leadership skills while having tons of fun. ymcaofcentrecounty.org

Best New Business
The MakeryAmy Frank at The MakeryAmy Frank at The Makery
Amy Frank knows she took a leap opening The Makery on Calder Way right next to the then-under-construction Fraser Centre, but she’s been overwhelmed by the response and the “Best New Business” win. “It’s really validating,” she says. “This whole first year I was continually amazed by the support we got from the community.” With classes for everyone, from preschoolers to retirees, Frank and her team of 12 instructors help the community create. “To see The Makery being used as a hub of creativity in downtown State College is amazing,” she says. themakerypa.com


People & Events


Best Doctor
Dr. Rodney M. Sepich
Along with patience, experience and a caring nature, Dr. Rodney Sepich cites communication as one of the fundamentals for creating the best possible experience for his patients. “I try to take care of my patients like I would my own family,” he says. Practicing medicine in State College for 11 years, Dr. Sepich has become one of the doctors that State College residents trust the most with their medical needs. 500 East Marylynn Ave.

Best Veterinarian
Dr. Jeffrey Miller, Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital
Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital knows your fluffy friends deserve the utmost tender loving care. Jeffrey Miller uses his expertise to ensure you and your pets have the most comfortable veterinary experience. “I think our customers can tell how much we care about their pets, making them confident in our care,” says Dr. Miller. 1070 Smith Rd., Port Matilda

Best Chiropractor
Dr. Roy M. Love, Nittany Valley Chiropractic and Wellness Center
Roy Love, who was voted “Best Chiropractor” for the second year in a row, credits the recognition to his entire team at the Nittany Valley Chiropractic and Wellness Center. “We have a great office that cares about our patients and provides state-of-the-art care,” he says. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, the center offers massage therapy and acupuncture as well as exercise and yoga via next-door affiliate Wellness in Motion. “We have a holistic approach,” says Love, who has been practicing in the State College area for more than 30 years. nittanyvalleychiropractic.com

Best HairstylistLauren Vaught at Evolve StudioLauren Vaught at Evolve Studio
Lauren Vaught, Evolve Studio
With ever-changing but always cool hair, Lauren Vaught is always up on the trends in hairstyling. Like balayage, a hair-coloring technique that results in more natural-looking highlights. But it’s the relationships Vaught forms with her clients that she credits with her win. “We create such bonds,” she says. “You get to hang out with your friends all day.” Vaught has been cutting, coloring and creating style for 14 years, five of which have been in her own studio, Evolve. myevolvestudio.com

Best Dentist
Jocelyn L. Anderton DMD, LLC
Dr. Jocelyn Anderton, who’s been practicing dentistry in State College since 2009, says her win is surely a response to her team of assistants, hygienists and office staff. “If it weren’t for my staff, we wouldn’t have such a great office,” says Anderton, who performs general dentistry for children and adults as well as cosmetic dentistry. And her love for the profession runs deep in her family, as her father, brother and brother-in-law are all dentists as well. andertondentistry.com

Best Eye Doctor
Dr. Fred Carlin, Nittany Eye Associates
Since 1975, Fred Carlin has been helping the region see its best. He jokes that's why he won. “I've been around the longest!” But Carlin really credits his whole team, saying, “There are 10 doctors here and it covers the whole gamut of care, from pediatric eye care to LASIK surgery and more.” nittanyeye.com

Best Broadcast Personality
Best Local Personality

Jerry Valeri, Big Froggy 101
On weekday mornings starting at 6 a.m., listeners throughout the Centre Region tune in to The Jerry Valeri Show on Big Froggy 101. Valeri's typical self-deprecating humor is on display when asked why he thinks he won. “I really don't know what to say other than thank you to everyone for not hating me nearly as much as I assumed that they did,” he says. “It really is humbling to be selected for both categories. I'm sure by next year they will have come to their senses.” foreverstatecollege.com

Best Remodeling/Home Construction
Zoller Construction
Zoller Construction may have started its business in Nanticoke, but it’s built a buzz in this area for quality craftsmanship and attention to detail thanks to its growing list of Central Pennsylvania clients through the company’s Boalsburg office. They offer services for new home construction, home improvement projects, energy retrofits and even handyman services. zollerconstruction.com

Best Local Photographer
Heidi Lewis, Heidi Lynn Photography
Kids grow up quickly, but Heidi Lewis can help you capture those special moments in time by creating works of art that last for years to come. Specializing in infant and children’s portraiture, Lewis strives to express the joy of childhood in all of her work. Photographing in State College for more than 10 years, she has received numerous awards and is a member of the Professional Photographers of America.
heidilynnephotography.com

Best Realtor
Bob Froehlich, Keller Williams
Bob Froehlich calls winning “Best Realtor” for the third time in a row “a genuine and humbling honor.” He was a civil engineering design manager before becoming a Realtor with Keller Williams Advantage Realty in 2010, and hasn’t looked back. “Being a Realtor is who I am and makes me happiest,” Froehlich says, and it seems his clients are equally pleased. bobfroehlich.kw.com

Best Mechanic/Place to Fix Your Car
Tire Town
Tire Town prides themselves on outstanding customer service and dedication to the community they have called home for over 50 years. Since 1964, the Vratarich family has been changing tires and fixing cars for the people of State College and surrounding areas. After all of this time and two renovations to the building, Tire Town continues to be the spot of choice for vehicular needs. tiretown.net

Best Local Artist
Michael Pilato
When turning the corner of College Avenue and Heister Street, you can’t help but stop and look at Michael Pilato’s “Inspiration” mural. This vibrant painting that brings life to the side of the Student Bookstore showcases people who have had a positive impact on the State College community. Pilato’s work is known far and wide, including on an international level through the World Mural program. Through this program, Pilato aids in the creation of similar murals all over the world. pilatomurals.com

Best Local Band/Musician
Pure Cane Sugar
This local band has been rocking the socks off Happy Valley residents since their debut in 2007. Taking home the title of “Best Local Band” for the second consecutive year, Pure Cane Sugar specializes in Americana tunes. Leading ladies Kate Twoey and Natalie Race never fail to get the crowd going with their soulful harmonies and impressive lyrics. Let the rhythm flow through you at one of their many performances at bars, festivals and other locations around the area. facebook.com/purecanesugar

Best Community Event
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
It’s clear — summer in State College wouldn’t be the same without Arts Fest. There’s something for everyone at the five-day street fair, from unique art to delicious food to children’s activities. It’s no wonder we measure time by the 50-year-old tradition. arts-festival.com •SCM


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