Names: Aly McGeehin and Emily Damato
Location: STRATA East
Years/Months Lived at STRATA together: 9 months
Why did you two want to move Downtown?
Alyson: My family is from the Lehigh Valley and lived in the West End when I was a kid. Growing up, my mom took me shopping at Hess’s and other stores downtown. When ADP announced our office was moving downtown, I knew it was the place for me to live. I loved the idea of supporting the revitalization of a city I’ve loved and lived in my entire life.
Emily: When ADP announced the office was moving, I wanted to explore the opportunity to walk to work in a downtown setting. Putting over two hours back into my day by living closer to work has been one of the best decisions for me.
How do you end up choosing each other as roommates?
Alyson: Honestly, it just kind of happened! We mentioned in passing to each other a few times about not wanting to commute to the city and how great it would be to live downtown. Finally, one day we were like, “Okay, so I think we should actually do this!”
Emily: We were both in the same position in deciding what the office move meant for us. After two weeks working downtown, we decided to tour STRATA and realized the apartment layout really allowed for two people to coexist easily. It was really a no-brainer after that.
What was the deciding factor that made you both choose STRATA as your new home?
Alyson: The driver behind evaluating STRATA definitely started with ADP’s move to downtown. However, once we had a formal visit, we were sold. Between the amenities and the location, it was a no- brainer. The fact that we can walk to work, head home for lunch and top the day off with happy hour at a multitude of places is unbeatable.
Emily: The biggest factor is convenience. One floor living, washer/dryer in the apartment, the garbage shoot is right down the hall, no need to wake up and shovel snow or clean off my car, and no commute!
Do you both have the same favorite place to go to for happy hour?
Alyson: We love all the restaurants downtown has to offer, but if I had to pick one for happy hour, I would say The Hamilton. They have great drink options and the happy hour food menu can’t be beaten. During the warmer months, we love to sit on the patio and listen to the live music they have on Fridays. It also doesn’t hurt that we can go from work to happy hour without having to leave the Two City Center building.
Emily: I also prefer The Hamilton. I was a server when I was younger, so I notice and appreciate their consistent service whether there is a crowd or not. Plus, there is a variety of happy hour specials—so no need to compromise on the menu.
What’s your favorite appetizer to share when you eat out in Downtown Allentown?
Alyson: If I had to choose, I would probably say either the Smoked Wings from Queen City BBQ (QCB) or the Southern Fried Pickles from The Hamilton. Can’t go wrong with either of those!
Emily: Agreed! QCB is one of our favorite places to get wings because they’re smoked— tons of flavor, no sauce needed.
What’s the best part of having a roommate at STRATA?
Emily: I always have someone to do things with! I explore and try twice as many things as I would have if I lived alone.
If you could go on a shopping spree at one store in Downtown, which would it be?
Alyson: Definitely, RE:find. We wandered in there one Saturday and I fell in love with the store. They have such cool pieces of art and furniture that are one-of-a-kind.
Emily: For me, The Perfect Fit. I love to peruse the racks in search for that one unique piece of clothing. Also, when you are ready to Marie Kondo your closet, it is a convenient way to not only donate your clothing but also support the empowerment of women in the community.
What is your ideal way to spend the weekend together in Downtown Allentown?
Alyson: Most weekends start with happy hour on Friday after work or, depending on the work week, just hanging at home. I love going to the Allentown Farmers Market on a Saturday morning or brunch at The Hamilton or Union and Finch. We both love to cook, so having a fun Sunday dinner with family and friends is a great way to end the weekend.
Emily: We also use the weekend to catch up but also decompress. I love getting organized for the week ahead and hosting meals with family and friends.
What do you both do to unwind after a hard day at work?
Alyson: I would say it goes between either having drinks and dinner out, so we don’t have to cook dinner for ourselves or heading home, ordering some takeout and watching Bravo.
Emily: Depending on the time of year, we can grab some beers and head to the rooftop to grill or throw on some sweats and binge-watch Bravo. Because we work together, it is easy to relate to one another when we had a hard day so we can hit the reset button and conquer the next day.
How did you decorate together to make your apartment feel like home?
Alyson: I really can take no credit for our decorations. Emily had a ton of furniture to move from her last apartment and has incredible taste so I let her take the lead there.
Emily: It was tricky figuring out how to make the best use of space considering I was moving from a larger apartment. Aly’s perspective really helped me step back so we can make our common areas functional for the two of us during the week, with the versatility to easily host our family and friends on the weekends.
Share one thing you each of you love about STRATA that some people haven’t heard of.
Alyson: Any time I have friends visit or ask me about STRATA, I tend to talk about the common spaces. I absolutely love the fact that we can go hang out on the roof during the warmer months and any time my mom visits, she brings our family dog since we can take him to the dog park.
Besides your apartment, what’s your favorite spot to go to in STRATA when you want to relax?
Alyson: Definitely the roof deck. During the warmer months, going up there to grill or just hang out is one of my favorite things to do. Even on nights when it’s a little cooler, I love to light the fire pit, listen to music and have some drinks.
Which Downtown Allentown event do you love to attend together every year?
Alyson: We’ve only been here for 9 months thus far, but I know I will definitely be attending the Brews, Blues and BBQ festival again. It’s a ton of fun!
Emily: Also, the farmers market in the summer has been my personal favorite. Supporting local vendors and farms is so important to me. I can meet and talk to the people growing our food, ask questions, and learn new things. I enjoyed it so much I would buy a bouquet of fresh wildflowers and produce every week on my way home from work.
What is the next place you’ve been planning to visit together in Downtown that you haven’t been to yet?
Alyson: One place I haven’t been yet is the Allentown Art Museum and I definitely would love to check it out one of these upcoming weekends. Funny enough, my parents went on their first date to the Allentown Art Museum so it is definitely on my list
Emily: I really want to explore The Baum School of Art. I know there are night classes available that I’ve been meaning to take advantage of it!