A Show on a Plate - Behind the scenes of State Burger Co.’s showstopping Restaurant Week offerings

– by Laura Mustio

“There’s no limit. We go over the top, every time,” said Kitchen Manager Kevin’s when I asked if there could ever be a dish that was too much, too extra, or too extravagant to be considered for State Burger Co.’s Restaurant Week offering.

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- Photo taken by Matt Fern

If you’ve settled into a table at the downtown Bellefonte restaurant and had your eyes light up as you were served a burger and fries made entirely of dessert items (2023), a milkshake with a piece of cake on top (2021), or any of their other see-it-to-believe-it creations, you get it

This team has a blast creating their Restaurant Dish each year, and it totally shows.

So how do these dishes come to be? I sat down with Co-Owner/Operator Dustin, Kitchen Manager Kevin, and Front of House Manager Ashlan to get a behind the scenes look at their process. (And yes, I got the inside scoop on this year’s offering! Hints forthcoming…)

Although we talked for over an hour, it was clear within just a few minutes that everything that ends up on the State Burger menu is a true collaboration. This is a kitchen full of creative thinkers, foodies, and artists, working in an environment where everyone’s ideas are celebrated and taste tests are a team effort. The team trends young, but people stick around. Kevin, for example, is 20 and has been in the mix since he was 16.

“We’ve had a lot of the same crew for a while. We’re absolutely blessed that way. We’ve had some of our employees since the second month we opened, almost 7 years ago,” Dustin explained.

As for their Restaurant Week process? Kevin turns ideas into taste-testable bites, Ashlan ensures that the finished dish can be efficiently put together in the kitchen and easily delivered to tables by servers, and the whole team offers tweaks until the flavor balance is just right.

For Dustin and the State Burger team, Restaurant Week is a chance to create dishes that are too complex to have on the menu full time.

“There are a lot of things we want to feature, but that aren’t really practical to have on our everyday menu. I think it’s cool to do something we don’t get the chance to do. Put a show on a plate.”

Front of House Manager Ashlan and Kitchen Manager Kevin with a sneak peek of part of this year’s Restaurant Week offering!

So what will they be offering this year?

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- Photo taken by Matt Fern

Although sworn to secrecy on the full details, I’m allowed to say that this year’s dish is a “little” nod to the specialty selections they did throughout 2022 and 2023 — State Burger fans will know exactly what’s up! — and that the flavors will range from earthy and spicy to boozy and cozy, all in one experience. I can also say that the mini chocolate spice milkshake I got to taste, just one part of the offering, was delicious!

The full dish can be ordered as a fun, sharable appetizer or as a stand-alone journey of flavors for one person to enjoy.

(Something to note, because of the nature of some of the ingredients, is that this offering will have limited availability and will only be served Tuesday-Saturday during Restaurant Week, or until the dish is sold out. So mark your calendars for Tuesday, June 17 if this is a must-try on your Restaurant Week list!)

For Dustin, as a business owner, participating in Restaurant Week is an anticipated part of the year.

“Quite honestly, it’s fun! It’s free advertising and I think one of the really cool things for us that we really appreciate, we’re in Bellefonte, we’re not in State College, and there exists this invisible barrier somewhere between the two to get people to come ‘all the way’ to Bellefonte. But something like this really helps.”

As for what he’d say to other restaurants who haven’t decided whether they’ll participate this year? “Jump in. Have fun. Share your talent and GO BIG! That’s what Restaurant Week is all about. We love seeing everyone else’s creations as much as we love making our own.

Click HERE to see the full list of participating restaurants. Happy eating!

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau publishes up-to-date event information at HappyValley.com/events