By Tina Paknejad '10
Alexander Pfaffenbach '09 (at center of photo) and Andrew Nolan '10 (left in photo)say they're catering to the needs of the Binghamton community by providing a gourmet restaurant in the city's downtown area. In August, they hosted a grand-opening for Escape State Street, located at 163 Washington St. With barely any business experience, but tons of confidence, the partners are turning this mini-bistro into a favorite for locals and students alike.
Being the first entrepreneurial venture for Pfaffenbach and Nolan, the old University friends and fraternity brothers offer to students and locals a unique feasting experience; twists on names make ordering entertainment in itself, with sandwiches such as, “The Woppa,” “Have a Cow,” and “The Muffawatta.” The menu is a mix of traditional and innovative, international and local.
A testament to the merriment of the restaurant and its owners is apparent in the addition of a Man vs. Food competition for only the bravest of contenders; the menu features a 5 lb. sandwich known as “The Real McCoy Challenge.” The only rule is that you have to finish the “masterpiece” - made of 1 lb. turkey, 1 lb. ham, 1 lb. roast beef, ¼ lb. bacon, ¼ lb. pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, onion, herbed mayo, artichoke, avocado, and spicy mustard, all on Escape State Street's specialty herb-buttered bread - without regurgitating.
So far, nobody has won.
Having only been open about six weeks, Pfaffenbach, Nolan, and Dustin Maldonado (at right of photo above) of Endicott, N.Y., have been working about 110 hours a week, making sure the experience at Escape State Street is personable and inviting for each of their customers.
“We connect with our past at night,” Nolan said of his interactions with the typical student crowd that Escape State Street gathers during the late-night shifts.
“During the day, we are connecting with our future,” he continued, speaking of the professionals and business owners that stop in for lunch. Nolan said many Binghamton business owners are supportive of the establishment, and willing to offer advice.
“The students need the local people, and the local people need the students,” Pfaffenbach said. “We feel like we are crossing over, trying to bridge that gap, mesh the community and the University together. We've had regulars since day one. In the restaurant business, that tells you that your food is good, and that you are selling good product.”