Pita Grill, a new kosher Mediterranean restaurant, is opening soon at the Roswell-Wieuca Shopping
Center on Roswell Road.
Center on Roswell Road.
Pita Grill will open its 1,635 square foot location in place of the short lived Swirll Frozen Yogurt, on the side of the center facing Wieuca Road. The center is anchored by The Fresh Market and is also home to restaurants including Tin Drum, Goldberg's Bagel & Deli, Willy's Mexicana Grill and the upcoming Cheeseburger Bobby's.
Pita Grill is being opened by entrepreneur David Bloom (co-founder of Silverpop) and Roi Levi (formerly of Pita Palace). Levi left Pita Palace (home to what I currently consider the best falafel in Atlanta) earlier last year and had been working as a locksmith in Dunwoody, while Bloom continued to serve on the board of the digital marketing technology business. Levi will have a similar function at Pita Grill, serving as both ambassador and General Manager. Surely he will greet everyone with " hello, my friend."
Bloom tells me that Pita Grill will offer not only Mediterranean staples like falafel and shwarma, but salads, grilled vegetables, fish and other popular Israeli dishes. He anticipates pricing at the restaurant to be in line with other fast casual operations such as Figo and Doc Chey's.
I had the opportunity to try a burger that David made for a Hanukkah celebration last month, and believe me when I tell you, it is LEGIT. I've made an effort to curb my red meat consumption, but I ate three burgers!
Given Atlanta's significant Jewish population, 9th largest in the country, there is surely a market for for restaurants such as this. Of course it's not only Jews who enjoy such cuisine, non Jews (or Gentiles, in the Jewish world) have become fans of kosher and in some areas, halal eateries, given the perception that the foods are of higher quality and healthier.
Pita Grill will face some immediate issues related to both competition and location.
Pita Grill is opening in a space that most recently housed a failed FroYo shop and offers zero "drive by" visibility from Roswell Road. Additionally, Cafe Posh is located not far away, in nearby Fountain Oaks Shopping Center. Cafe Posh, though not kosher, serves similar fare at a similar price. Also, Fuego Mundo, a South American eatery, is located in The Prado, a few miles north of Pita Grill, and like Pita Grill, is a kosher meat restaurant.
On the positive side, Pita Grill's kosher designation will make it a destination restaurant for many; not only locals, but many people from around the city. The restaurant may lack Roswell Road frontage but is does have plenty of virtually exclusive, nearby parking. Having Levi, with an established following and personable demeanor, will surely be a plus for the restaurant as well. Additionally, the Chabad Israeli Center is located a little north on Roswell, providing what could be a steady lunch and or dinner crowd.
Kosher restaurants aren't always a hit in Atlanta.
Moshe's Mediterranean, opened in Mount Vernon shopping center in early 2011 and by early 2012, was closed. Moshe's, like Pita Grill, was a kosher meat restaurant, but unlike what Bloom plans, was a sit down, full service restaurant. Having been to Moshe's a couple times, I will say, they had some of the best pita in Atlanta, likely a result of the fact that they literally made the soft bread, to order, in front of you. Moshe's location, in a once Harris Teeter-anchored shopping center, was not the best, and surely contributed to their inability to keep the doors open. I'm told the owners still operate a catering business by the same name.
Closer in town, Wall St. Pizza closed a while back after lasting for many years at Loehmann's Plaza, near the intersection of North Druid Hills and Briarcliff Roads. Wall St., a dairy kosher restaurant, was located in close proximity to the large Jewish population near Toco Hills, a neighborhood also home to kosher landmarks like Pita Palace, Broadway Cafe and The Kosher Gourmet.
OU4U, later renamed Cafe Noga, was located on Hammond Drive in Sandy Springs, and was in business for a few years offering both catering and seated meals but the restaurant closed this past year. The restaurant started out as a dairy, vegetarian restaurant but later dropped the vegetarian reference, though it remained dairy kosher.
Fuego Mundo no doubt has a worse location than Pita Grill, but with substantial marketing and neighborhood partnerships, is seeing increased restaurant traffic and is one of the better performing restaurants in the center.
Some kosher businesses have flourished.
East Cobb-based Ali's Cookies opened its second location last year in Perimeter Place and offers a wide variety of certified kosher cookies and cookie cakes. Closer intown, within Kroger Toco Hill, Chai Peking has been serving kosher Chinese cuisine since 1997 and has a devout following.
Former Top Chef contestant and Atlanta local Eli Kirstein was briefly the executive chef at Solo, a New York area kosher restaurant that featured Asian influenced Mediterranean cuisine. Although I'm told Kirstein does plan to open his own restaurant in Atlanta, it's highly unlikely it will be a kosher establishment.
Pita Grill, Yum Bunz and The General Muir are the restaurants I'm most looking forward to this year. What restaurant are most looking forward to this year? Are you eager to try Pita Grill? Who do you think makes the best falafel or shwarma in Atlanta? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.