PITA Mediterranean Street Food introduces a new way to serve its authentic, fresh and flavorful Mediterranean fare to hungry guests throughout the Southeast. This year, the popular chain has started opening concession-style dining options in addition to brick-and-mortar restaurants. PITA currently operates locations at Marietta Square, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Halcyon in Alpharetta.
“We are encouraging our franchisees to open locations on college campuses, food halls and stadiums,” says Nour Rabai, chief executive officer of PITA Mediterranean Street Food. “Last year, we saw a huge shift from brick-and-mortar stores to food halls. We discovered that the cost of operations is much lower at these types of locations and there is a huge benefit to the daily traffic that these locations bring.”
The COVID-19 pandemic shifted PITA’s thought processes on the future of the fast casual chain. Rabai realized that the cost of opening a concession-style stand would be 25% lower than what it would be to open a brick-and-mortar location, and that percentage could be very appealing to franchisees. Operating a stand in a food hall, for instance, would eliminate the need for a dining area, front-of-house staff, fountain machines and more.
PITA is allowing its franchisees to run third-party delivery platforms and curbside service at their concession-style dining kitchens if the option is available at the food hall or other location. The stalls will generally serve the same menu as the brick-and-mortar locations, with a few exceptions. PITA’s newly opened quick-service stand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium serves an abbreviated menu and keeps the same hours as its concerts and sporting events.
PITA has signed one franchisee to a six-store college campus deal in the Southeast, covering Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama. The PITA locations on college campuses will maintain hours as the individual colleges require.
Rabai thinks that this opportunity will reach new audiences and will give guests more options. “It’s about meeting everyone’s needs, and that’s what the food halls provide,” says Rabai. “A consumer might come to the hall for barbecue but have an interest in trying something else at PITA. That’s an add-on sale for us. There is a mix of food diversity at the food halls that guests can’t get everywhere else.”
Rabai sees the concession-style concept as a bright future for restaurants, but PITA will still open new brick-and-mortar locations. “That’s been our model since day one. All we are doing is giving franchisees a secondary option,” he adds. “This is the future for us as a concept.”