U.S. Team Joins Global Pita Pit Family for Conference to Celebrate Brand’s 20th Anniversary
When he opened the very first Pita Pit in Kingston, Ont., Nelson Lang could never have imagined the rapid growth his concept for a fresh, customizable, and healthy meal would enjoy in the two decades to come. On July 20, 2015 the brand celebrated its 20th anniversary with an international conference in Kingston, welcoming nearly 500 franchisees, suppliers and team members from the Pita Pit system across the globe; including the executive team from the U.S. where the brand has grown to nearly 250 locations since crossing the border in 1999.
The growing Pita Pit family spent three spirited days exploring new ways to collaborate and create even more rewarding customer experiences. Together, the teams left Kingston invigorated by a new vision for the brand in the second half of 2015, the next 20 years and beyond. Pita Pit now has its eyes set on hitting 1000 locations across the globe by the end of 2020. Three dedicated franchisees were recognized at the conference for helping to accelerate that vision.
- Pita Pit Franchisees of the Year: Tom and Kate Dake own four Pita Pit locations in Northwest Ohio, including two locations right next to the minor league stadiums for the Akron Rubber Ducks and Toledo Mudhens. The pair just reopened a newly improved Pita Pit in Akron, Ohio in March, and have worked closely with the nearby University of Akron to reach out and offer fresh, healthy quick service food options to students.
- Pita Pit Boost of the Year: Kristi and Mike Grob opened their second Pita Pit in Billings, Montana just earlier this year and have seen strong sales growth at their two locations. They were recognized at the Kingston conference for their strong adherence to the Pita Pit model and making new strides to further the brand’s mission in Montana.
- Pita Pit Rookie of the Year: Buddy and Carrie Fisher are heavily involved in the community surrounding their Butte, Montana store. The two were recognized at the Kingston conference for their first year’s successes and their involvement with community organizations and causes such as The Shannon Scholarship Fund, which raised money for students seeking an education at Montana Tech of the University of Montana.
The global Pita Pit team was also recognized for raising $104,000 for a bursary at Queen’s College in Pita Pit’s hometown of Kingston in founder Nelson Lang’s name.
“We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to make positive impacts in the communities we serve,” said Corey Bowman, President of Pita Pit Inc. “That connection has helped the Pita Pit brand flourish in the U.S. since we brought the concept over from Canada. While we’re proud of all that we’ve accomplished over two decades serving up fresh and healthy pitas, there is much more in store for the brand both here in the States and across the globe. So, while we reflect on our history, we’re poised for monumental expansion in the 20 years to come, and beyond.”
Beginning as a franchisee himself, Bowman’s journey to leading Pita Pit in the U.S. mirrors that of Lang’s, who has overseen the growth of the brand from his one Kingston location to over 550 worldwide. Lang saw a gap in the fast casual industry and pioneered the trend toward fast, healthy options in 1995. Bowman recognized the opportunity presented by Lang’s vision and joined Pita Pit as a franchisee, later becoming more involved in the direction of the brand and ultimately being named President of Pita Pit USA.
“Back in 1995, all that was available in the space were greasy burgers, pizza, or other calorie-loaded fast food,” said Founder Nelson Lang. “I knew there was a desire for a delicious meal that you could get quickly, and that wouldn’t leave you feeling bloated and guilty. 20 years later, as we continue to evolve our brand, our concept of providing fresh and healthy fast casual food options hasn’t changed. That’s what our customers love about us and it’s fueled our expansion into 11 countries.”
In the United States, Pita Pit is on pace to sign deals for 60 new locations and open 45 restaurants by the end of 2015, both records for the brand. Among new markets where the brand plans to enter or expand their presence are Hawaii, Ohio, and Indiana. While territories remain available across the U.S., Pita Pit is focused on growth in California and Texas, specifically in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Houston.
“The fresh and healthy concept is not going away and it’s only growing in popularity. This isn’t a fad,” said Bowman. “Pita Pit has been on the forefront of the fresh thinking movement in the U.S. for over fifteen years and we’re excited to keep bringing the Pita Pit experience to more states and cities as we continue building momentum.”
Since opening its first restaurant in the U.S. in 1999, Pita Pit Inc. has continued to be one of the fastest-growing fast-casual restaurant franchises in the country. Offering a healthier and tastier alternative to traditional fast food, Pita Pit’s fresh, made-to-order pita sandwiches feature a variety of lean grilled meats, fresh vegetables, flavorful cheeses, and zesty sauces all rolled up in a unique and convenient package. The company was founded in Ontario, Canada in 1995 and Pita Pit Inc. was acquired in 2005 by the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based Pita Pit USA. Now boasting 500 locations across 11 countries, Pita Pit is recognized as No. 1 in its category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500. Simply put, Pita Pit is Fresh Thinking and Healthy Eating. Learn more at www.pitapitusa.com.