“All right, you guys. You ever been here before?” asked Julie, the counter person at the new Pita Pit on East U. That was enough to marshal the attention of several disparate groups of students milling around looking like they didn’t quite know what to do. On campus this time of year, people expect each new experience to be accompanied by an orientation. Julie gave an efficient and good-humored lecture, explaining when to order drinks, and when to choose veggies. “It’s like Subway?” someone asked. “Oh, we’re much better than Subway,” Julie shot back. “We grill our own meats.”
Josh from New York, Anton from Milwaukee, and Alex from New Jersey, three roommates from down the street, had politely hung back during Julie’s orientation, but took advantage of the brief moment of confusion when it was over to position themselves at the head of the line.
“We eat here every day, or pretty much every day. It is awesome,” said one of them. The other two supplied other enthusiastic adjectives. They only backed off when asked if perhaps their love bordered on excessive. “Love” and “commitment” are not concepts men of their age fling around casually. “Love? Well, I don’t know about that,” said one of them. “We’ve been coming here like once a day but, I mean, we do go to other places. You know, Blimpy, Five Guys, No Thai, Spots, the noodle place.”
Pita Pit, which opened this summer, tried to enter the Ann Arbor market before in the early to mid-2000s and briefly had franchises on South U and State. Since then, the company has retooled its image. You can still see remnants of the old one if you Google “bold colors, lighting, and animated characters,” a phrase from one of its old marketing campaigns, where it still resides on websites that don’t turn over very often. The “animated characters” refers to a bug-eyed “Petey the pita,” an embarrassingly infantile concept which may have a lot to do with Pita Pit’s short tenure on the U-M campus.
Pita Pit still uses the red, green, and black color scheme, but the look is much sleeker now. The idea is indeed a vaguely Middle Eastern take on Subway, where one orders a sandwich then watches its construction, calling out veggie and condiment additions. Also similar to Subway, Pita Pit offers breakfast (though available all day) sandwiches, made with eggs and breakfast meats.
Pita Pit, 615 East University,
213-7482. Daily 9 a.m.-4 a.m. www. pitapitusa.com