The small tavern nestled at 106 S. Allen Street in downtown State College employs a bartender who knows the area inside and out.
Benjamin Baney, 29, grew up in Centre County, went to college at Penn State and has now worked at Bill Pickle’s Tap Room for seven years.
Baney, Class of 2006, was even a walk-on Penn State football player in 2002.
“I grew up playing basketball at the IM building,” Baney said. “I’ve lived here my whole life.”
He started working at the Tap Room when he was 21, first as a doorman, then server and now he is manager and a bartender.
“I had insomnia so I would stay up late,” Baney said. “I figured I could make some money doing it at least.”
He said he loves working at Pickle’s and that the atmosphere is great.
Connecting with people is what makes the job fun for him, he said, adding that the whole restaurant works as a team.
“This is a social job. More than interacting with customers, you have to interact with other staff members,” Baney said. “It helps if you’re friendly and cordial.”
Fellow Pickle’s bartender Josh Crumbling (junior-energy business and finance) also agrees that it is a great place to work.
“Tuesday night is my favorite — it’s country night,” Crumbling said. “I hate country music, but it’s a fun time to work. You get a lot of good people coming in and they all have fun.”
Crumbling said he started at Pickle’s also as a doorman, but now works as a bartender, working about 40 hours per week while being a full-time student.
Crumbling and Baney work together often and enjoy each other’s company, Baney said.
Everyone gets along, and since it’s such a small room, the staff depends on each other, he said.
Waitress Ashley Felice (sophomore-public relations) said she worked there for four months and has taken a liking to Crumbling and Baney.
“They’re really fun to work with,” Felice said. “We make daiquiris and always have a good time.”
Baney also writes for the Lions Pride blog, keeping his journalism degree alive. He wasn’t too interested in doing anything else with his degree yet, Baney said.
“I applied to a few places after I graduated,” Baney said about his degree. “It’s a difficult job to do.”
Baney said he didn’t want a formal career and once he got the job at Pickle’s, he wanted to stick with the bar scene.
His drink of choice is a Manhattan. Made with bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, this drink is on the classier side, as Baney described it. Not only is it his favorite to drink, it’s also his favorite to make for customers.
“It’s tough to hit perfectly, but once you hit it and someone drinks it, you can see in their reaction that you did it right,” Baney said.
He said his favorite nights to work are Fridays and Saturdays because those nights have “the greatest eclectic mix of people that you get to meet.”
Megan Wesley can be reached at (814) 865-1828.