Muncie’s Pita Pit reopened Aug. 30 after nearly a two-month hiatus from the Village — under new management with a fresh coat of paint.
“Our grand opening was a super success,” said Dain Peters, the 23-year-old new owner of the restaurant. “We sold about 300 pitas so we were busy from open to close. We had great community support so I appreciate everybody coming out.”
Peters said he was given the opportunity to take over Pita Pit in the Village after previous owner Randy Martin was injured in a motorcycle accident.
Peters said the accident resulted in Martin suffering from five fused ribs, along with other injuries, making it difficult for Martin to continue working the grill.
For the past seven months, Peters has also been the owner of another Pita Pit in Dayton, Ohio.
He said the transition to the new location was made easier for him because seven of his 10 student employees previously worked under Martin, helping him cut down on training hours.
“It was nice coming in here, it was nice doing a little refresh, get the place looking new — see it go from kind of like an old, little bit too dirty of a place to a nice and clean and welcoming environment for everybody,” Peters said. “The first thing we did was a repaint of the store, we added the fresh new decor that the new Pita Pits do.”
Along with the fresh coat of paint, new decor and a digital TV menu board have been added since Peters’ arrival.
Peters, who used to live in Seattle, said Pita Pit is more popular on the West Coast because it originated there. He said his dream was to bring one to Dayton. Once he did that, he quickly took the opportunity to own another franchise and he said he now has his sights set on two other locations as well.
“I’m kind of taking a lot on my shoulders, obviously in a little bit of a debt, but that’s kind of what comes with, I guess, the American dream when you’re not born rich and what not,” Peters said. “You kind of have to start from the bottom and work your way up, but I’m definitely not scared of the hard work.”
Peters said ingredients are bought from local markets each day so that things will be fresh instead of coming pre-chopped or pre-cooked.
“The young kids want to come to a healthy spot where the employees are energetic,” Peters said. “Our music might be a little louder than most places, but it’s just a fun environment for everybody.”
Peters said he has always loved cooking food and was “the family griller,” but or the first 20 years of his life, he and his family were always involved in “hard labor” jobs. Later on he said he wondered about working indoor jobs while still making a good income.
“I like just that whole idea of being able to run the whole business myself and being able to see it from start to finish and really being able to affect the way a business runs,” Peters said. “If something’s not working out right, you don’t have to count on somebody else to make the changes, it’s up to you to be the best you can.”
Heather Williams, president of the Riverside Normal Neighborhood Association where the VIllage is situated, said more events in the Village will help bring in more people and more businesses to the area.
“I do believe that the neighborhood surrounding the Village and Ball State students’ enthusiasm for a vibrant Village will cause more businesses to locate there and will help sustain the existing businesses,” Williams said.
The restaurant’s official grand re-opening Sept. 3 left some of its Muncie customers such as Sunshine Cox relieved to find the eatery wouldn’t be permanently closed.
“I actually came from across town just for Pita Pit,” Cox said. “I’m just happy that we didn’t lose another small business in Muncie, especially in the Village.”
Rohith Rao contributed to this story.