A downtown State College pizzeria will close, and a Bellefonte original will take its place starting next week.
Melissa and John Jennings, who opened Pizza Mia in Bellefonte in 2003, will take over the Corrinado’s Pizza location Wednesday.
The Jenningses, knowing how hard it is to pass up a good slice of pizza, said they couldn’t turn down an opportunity to open a Pizza Mia to service State College. They plan on a grand opening Jan. 18 following renovations but will serve pizza through the holidays and into the first month of 2016.
The 1,250-square-foot space at 114 Hetzel St. will take about four to six weeks to renovate and to bring in ovens and other features consistent with the Pizza Mia brand.
“We’ll start selling food and making renovations the day we take over … but it would be a lie to say it’ll be Pizza Mia right away,” John Jennings said. “It won’t be Pizza Mia pizza right away. We’ll get there, but we have to do some things. We have to do things like install our ovens, because they’re a big part of our flavor.”
The Jenningses also noted that delivery orders out of the State College area have grown.
“State College has asked us to go there,” John Jennings said.
Their biggest buyers might not be students.
“If you look at our demographics, most of the people that order from us are moms,” John Jennings said. “If you look at it, Houserville is just 2.4 miles away. Lemont is way underserved. The area is grossly underserved from a delivery capacity. I also love the students and have been engrossed with them since I was a student. I think they’ll love it, too.”
The Jenningses said they also hope to expand across the region, namely in Mill Hall, Penns Valley, Tyrone and Philipsburg.
John Jennings said he and his wife have fielded questions before about their style of pizza.
“People want to know if we make Chicago pizza or New York pizza,” he said. “Our brand, I tell them, is Happy Valley style.”
Pizza Mia will add 15 to 20 employees for the location in the next year on top of about 30 who are employed in Bellefonte.
“Some of our part-timers in Bellefonte will go full time in State College,” John Jennings said. “We have tremendous tenure here. We have really good people that have been with Pizza Mia and lived it for over 10 years, and we’ll make sure Pizza Mia in State College is the same way.”
Corrinado’s Pizza management did not respond to requests for comment.