The city of Idaho Falls, Idaho has a population of a little over 67,000. Not necessarily a small town (my small town is just over 8,000), but they somehow maintain that community feel. I believe established small businesses help to maintain this, and North Hi-Way Café definitely fits that bill. Hence, the subject of this week’s Feel-Good Friday.
North Hi-Way Café has been in business for 89 years. It is the oldest continually running café and catering company in the state of Idaho and maintains the original location where it started. How many businesses can claim that status? Especially since the pandemic, which did its utmost to destroy small businesses across the country. North Hi-Way Café is a survivor and a community treasure.
They first opened in 1934, as a café within an auto repair shop. The original owner set up tables around the garage so that his customers could have a bite to eat while they waited for their cars to be serviced. Ultimately the café took over, and the garage was fully transformed into a full-service restaurant, and they have been that ever since. The wait staff wears a t-shirt that boasts, “The Best Darn Café in Idaho Falls, Idaho,” and they are proud of their food, service, and institutional heritage. Correspondent Nate Easton of East Idaho News received a message from a woman who wanted to recognize two employees of the restaurant for a particular kindness extended to her.
My birthday was coming up and my kids asked me what I wanted. I have a terminal illness and so I said nothing. Then in my head pops key lime cheesecake. I wanted a piece of key lime cheesecake. They called everywhere and none to be found. My daughter decided to call North Hi-way Café. The waitress said they had cheesecake but not that flavor. She described why she wanted it and the waitress relayed my sad tale to the cook. The waitress called my daughter back and said the cook will have the cheesecake ready for my birthday. I do not know who the baker is but the fact he went out of his way to make my birthday wish come true tells you volumes about him. The cheesecake is exquisite.
Easton tracked down the manager who took the order and the cook who baked the cheesecake in order to give them some special gift cards. The manager LaDonna simply said, “Well, she really wanted it, she said it was for her Mom’s birthday.”
The other staff person in the video said, “Community means a lot to us. We would not have been here 89 years if it had not been for the community. So, absolutely. Yep. So it’s exciting.”
What a beautiful, community focus and going above and beyond—especially to make this woman’s day of birth special. Having walked with family through a terminal illness, you do whatever you can to see them light up again and to make them happy. So, fulfilling the wish of the mother was a double blessing for the daughter!
Here’s the video.
What are some of your established community places that go above and beyond and represent the heart of your town?