Porch Light’s fun-loving employees serve artisan pizzas


CODY COTTIER | The Daily Evergreen

Porch Light employee Rylee Look puts a pizza in the restaurant’s oven.

CODY COTTIER, Evergreen reporter

When the spring air warms, Porch Light Pizza opens its namesake seating area. Customers line up through the door to dine outside on thin-crust artisan dishes, with the Palouse River and train tracks running nearby.

The restaurant understandably attracts fair-weather crowds. But year-round, and for the fourth year in a row, Porch Light’s selection tops the list of students’ favorite pizza.

Clayton Williams, a manager of two years and a WSU senior, said their food must be both tasty and tasteful. The recipes don’t overdo it on cheese, sauce or any other topping, distinguishing them from other local pizza joints.

“It’s supposed to have an aesthetic as well,” he said.

They make many ingredients in-house, and many are locally sourced, Williams said. Their pizzas run a flat rate of $9, and they keep local craft beers on tap.

The “warm and welcoming” atmosphere augments Porch Light as much as its food, said Arious Frazier, a WSU student who has worked there for six months. All employees besides the general manager are students, and there is little turnover. Many stay on until they graduate.

After spending so much time together, Frazier said, they become good friends. Sometimes the whole staff can be found at the bar together. They are all positive, friendly and fun-loving, Williams added, and these traits show even during rush hour.

“We can be slammed,” he said, “and we’ll still be having a good time.”

Williams said the customers have a good time as well. Several regulars drop in every Monday. Some who come from further away, like Lewiston, say they pay the pizzeria a visit whenever they are in town.

Each employee is trained in the full range of techniques involved in creating Porch Light’s fast-fired pizzas, from kneading and flour-dusting the dough to baking it in the open oven, visible behind the counter.

“Everybody learns basically everything,” Frazier said.

Williams added nobody’s role is set in stone.

“You kinda learn how to play the multi-tool role,” he said.

Williams and Frazier compared their experiences at Porch Light to prior fast-food jobs, and both favored the former. It’s hard to enjoy slapping together a McChicken, but sliding an artisan pizza into a blazing wood-fire stove? Far more satisfying.

“We put out a high-quality product,” Frazier said. “That’s something you can be proud of.”