Pita Express Opens
Mediterranean "pick your own" on Carpenter Rd.
From the August, 2019 issue
"My favorite is the chicken shawarma," says Kaleb Kasha, owner of the new Pita Express on Carpenter Rd. "It's our number-one seller right now." Though the name sounds like a big chain (and Kasha hopes it one day will be), the "pick your own" Mediterranean restaurant in the Valley View plaza is, for now, an only child.
Modeled after fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle, Pita Express has no table service. Instead, customers walk along the counter and choose their ingredients, starting with a genre--gyro, shawarma, hummus bowl, or rice bowl--then a protein--chicken or beef shawarma, chicken tawook, classic gyro-style beef, or falafel--their choices from twenty available toppings--including tabbouleh, cucumber salad, pine nuts, and banana peppers--and finally a sauce--options include tzatziki, garlic, and three kinds of hummus. Kasha says the garlic sauce is the biggest hit there.
An Ann Arbor native, Kasha says he's "been in the restaurant business since I was fourteen years old." He grew up in the University Palisades neighborhood right behind Pita Express, and has stayed in the area since. Until recently he was driving an hour and a half to a more traditional Mediterranean restaurant he founded in Ohio, but he sold it about a year ago to open Pita Express.
He says he learned a lot of his recipes from his mother. "She's the classic Mediterranean mom," he laughs. He picked up more ideas on a recent eight-month trip to visit relatives in both Israel and Jordan.
The space was formerly an AT&T store, which moved to a building in the front of the same parking lot. Kasha says renovation took around five months. Though a lot of the business is takeout and delivery, there are a few booths and tables along with the classic fast-casual stainless-steel, glass-covered counter and a choose-your-own Coke machine.
Pita Express, 3765 Carpenter Rd. (734) 531-6495. Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. thepitaexpress.com
[Originally published in August, 2019.]
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