Extreme Pita to Launch Manhattan Store


Oct 03, 2006

The move from Mississauga to Manhattan has taken The Extreme Pita nearly ten years but the Canadian fast-food chain says it'''s on the brink of a breakthrough. The franchise company, which until recently was largely a suburban phenomenon, is opening its first urban restaurant next month in the heart of NYC. "We've been working for months tweaking the concept," said Alex Rechichi, who started the business with his brother, Mark, in 1997. The New York site is part of an rapid expansion plan that will see the company double the number of locations it opens in 2007, including more Toronto based stores, Rechichi said. "We don't have a lot of stores in downtown Toronto," he said. "When we started franchising seven years ago it was tough finding locations in the city that were competitive from a rental perspective and still a good retail location."So, the company opted to focus on the suburbs and beyond.” The result is a chain of nearly 200 locations stretching from coast to coast, including 12 in the southwestern United States. In each region, the company teamed up with an "area developer," someone who knew the local market and would promote the brand in exchange for a percentage of the earnings, Rechichi said. Now, with three area developers in Canada and two in the U.S., the company is positioned to grow exponentially, with more than one hundred restaurants planned for next year. While large chains like Subway have also added pita sandwiches to their menu, most restaurants that serve pitas are small mom and pop shops focused on traditional Lebanese dishes, he said. Rechichi said he liked the idea that a pita sandwich is mostly filling, and not much bread. The adopters of his pitas were university students, women and athletes, but demand for fast food that is also healthy has grown since then, he said. Nutritional content for each meal is posted on a large billboard at every location so that customers can see the number of calories, and how much fat and protein they're consuming. Vegetarian sandwiches are prepped separately. For the urban stores, the company plans to install fewer seats and more meals that have been prepared in advance. "We've been tweaking the original concept to fit the market," Rechichi said.