Continental Style

With Crust & Crumb Cafe, an engineer-turned-chef brings European fare to downtown State College.

Crust and Crumb quiche

Opening a cafe during a pandemic is not something Amber Winkler would have wanted to do—or would do again. But more than a year after opening Crust & Crumb Cafe on Beaver Avenue, the civil engineer-turned-pastry chef is relieved, and hopeful about the future of the business she built from scratch during an unusually challenging time.

“I’m just glad we’re still standing,” says Winkler, whose cafe marked its first birthday in August. “It gives me the energy to keep pushing forward.” Despite months of staffing shortages and ongoing issues sourcing ingredients, the “Old World-style” cafe has steadily gained a following for its scratch-made, small-batch baked goods, European-inspired sandwiches, and Pittsburgh-based Commonplace coffee drinks.

Winkler ’99 Eng spent 15 years putting her degree to use as a structural engineer, much of it designing bridges throughout the U.S. Then she switched careers, earning a culinary degree in classical French cuisine and a pastry certification from the American Academy of Culinary Arts. After working for restaurants in Pittsburgh, the DuBois, Pa., native made the leap to fulfill her dream of opening a place of her own. Her artisanal fare—favorites include the Basque cheesecake, cranberry Gruyère scones, and the Maldon sea salt bagel—is a hit with full-time residents and with students, whom Winkler says have more refined palates than students from her era. “I’m happy to be back [in State College],” she says. “It’s a good fit.”