State College

Downtown State College bar to close, return to its original concept, owners say

Downtown State College bar Inferno Brick Oven Pizza, at 346 E. College Ave., is set to close and transition back to its previous concept, HiWay Pizza Pub, owners Dante’s Restaurants and NightLife announced Monday.
Downtown State College bar Inferno Brick Oven Pizza, at 346 E. College Ave., is set to close and transition back to its previous concept, HiWay Pizza Pub, owners Dante’s Restaurants and NightLife announced Monday. Centre Daily Times, file

A downtown State College bar is closing, but it is being replaced by its owner’s original concept — HiWay Pizza Pub.

Dante’s Restaurants and Nightlife officially announced on Monday the move to close Inferno Brick Oven Pizza and open a third HiWay location. HiWay had previously occupied the building at 346 E. College Ave. for nearly 30 years until Dante’s opened Inferno in 2008. The pizza pub has two other locations, at 1688 N. Atherton St. and 1301 W. College Ave.

“We are thrilled to be opening our third location and bringing our HiWay Pizza Pub brand back downtown,” Dante’s co-Director Jennifer Zangrilli said in a release. “HiWay Pizza will be returning home to the original building in which my dad, our owner Andy Zangrilli, opened State College’s first HiWay Pizza in on Hiester Street back in 1963.”

HiWay was the first restaurant opened by Andy Zangrilli, when he was 22 years old. By 1970, he was able to open two more HiWay locations. Since then, Dante’s has grown to include six other locations, including The Deli Restaurant and Z Bar, Liberty Craft House and The Saloon.

The change from Inferno back to HiWay comes at a time when Dante’s has been making efforts to reinvest in its flagship brand. It opened its West location in November 2017, which co-Director J.P. Mills said — with its 32 screens and 30 draft beer options — offers a glimpse into what the newest location will be like and how the nearly 60-year-old brand is working to move in a more modern direction.

“All things old are often new again, and so now has come the time for Inferno to take a bow and allow HiWay Pizza Pub to once again carry our pizza banner downtown,” he said. “We feel this change is timely and builds on the recent focus in HiWay Pizza.”

All Inferno employees will keep their jobs as the company works over the next few weeks to transition back to HiWay Pizza Pub, Mills said. That transition will include the menu, which Mills said will feature HiWay’s hand-spun pizzas, salads, burgers and cheesesteaks, and traditional bar food such as wings.

The move back to downtown is a return to what made HiWay a local tradition, Jennifer Zangrilli said. With the new location, she said she hopes to offer an atmosphere for people to watch sports and have a few drinks, as well as for families who are visiting downtown.

“The closing of Inferno gives us the ability to grow our HiWay brand and celebrate the pizza our company was built on,” she said.

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