Part of HiWay’s longevity and success can be attributed to (alongside delicious pizza, of course) the brand’s commitment to all-around excellence, whether that be when it comes to service or, as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health and safety of both the brand’s long-standing customer base and its employees. This commitment helped HiWay shift its way of doing business and serving customers as seamlessly as possible during an uncertain and ever-changing year.
“Thankfully, we were working on developing several aspects of our business months prior to first learning of the impending COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the technology side,” explains JP Mills, director, Dante’s Restaurants & Nightlife. “Our complete digital footprint was being rethought and rebuilt, in-house, from the ground up. A new website, better online menus, our HiWay NOW online ordering platform and the HiWay Pizza Gang Rewards club are just a few examples of areas that were already in the early stages of development. COVID just prioritized and fast-tracked all of this for us. In addition to technology, we focused on improving carryout and delivery.”
Now, customers will find it easier than ever to order their HiWay pizza and other favorite menu items, directly from the restaurants (and earn rewards as they do so) — which may be something to consider before automatically reaching for the GrubHub or DoorDash app on your phone. As food delivery services often take a portion of the moneys earned from such deliveries, a direct order can ensure more of your money goes to supporting local business.
The HiWay NOW online platform is available via phone, tablet or computer, and allows you to place an order for contact-free curbside carryout or delivery, as well as to schedule a future order for a certain day or time. It’s also possible to save favorite menu items and payment information, for even faster orders the next time around. Plus, HiWay Pizza Gang Rewards members earn points for every dollar spent.
But when it came to improving the delivery and carryout experience for customers during the pandemic, HiWay Pizza didn’t stop with simply making the ordering process easier and more efficient. Mills and the team also worked to ensure that each order arrives in the customer’s hands just as it should.
"We want to do everything possible to ensure our scratch-made food is received by the customer in the best possible condition after travel time to their dining table. We sourced specialized packaging for different categories of menu items to optimize their time spent in the takeout containers. For example, hot items are sold in containers that have special vents to release moisture while retaining heat. They are even microwaveable if you want to refrigerate the leftovers for a snack later,” says Mills.
But what if you want to eat at one of the three HiWay locations? Unsurprisingly, HiWay Pizza is taking its approach to inside dining just as seriously, taking guidance from the CDC, The National Restaurant Association, ServSafe®, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the State College Department of Health, in order to update policies and procedures to create the safest possible environment for both customers and employees. Employees are even required to complete specialized COVID-19 food safety training courses for on-premise food preparation and service, and there’s additional training provided on preventative measures and how to safely package take-out orders for carryout and delivery.
If you’re not currently in town to support HiWay Pizza in person and get your HiWay famous vodka sauce fix, there are still plenty of ways to ensure HiWay sticks around for another 50-plus years, to welcome you back during your next trip to Happy Valley. Gift cards and merchandise are available online (you can even schedule an electronic gift card to arrive in your recipient’s inbox at a later date), at hiwaypizza.com/shop. The online store also sells vodka sauce, t-shirts, glassware and more.
“Small, local, family-owned businesses like ours need everyone’s help, immediately,” says Mills. “We need your support to continue on through these extremely difficult times. We do not have the resources that large-chain brands have. We’ve been a State College tradition since 1963 serving Happy Valley for nearly six decades. We live in the community and participate in its activity and development. We hope to be here for many more years, but that requires your support and you can do that by eating a scratch-made HiWay pizza!”
Place your order, shop and learn more, at hiwaypizza.com. You can also call the downtown location at (814) 237-5718; the West College Avenue location at (814) 954-5240; or the North Atherton Street location at (814) 237-0375.