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Pita Inn in Skokie


Fresser
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How many eGullet noshers have visited Pita Inn?

I've eaten here since 1989 and they have never raised their prices. :blink: Amazing when you consider that nothing on the menu costs over $6.00, and most platters (including your choice of kifta, shawarma or shish kebab with rice, salad & pita) cost under $5.00.

Anyway, the fine gent who owns Pita Inn is opening a third (flagship) store just north of Golf Mill Mall on Milwaukee Avenue in Glenview. He already rents out most of the space next to his Skokie store for his pita bakery & Middle Eastern groceries, so he's the man on the move.

Their web site is http://www.pitainn.com.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

We like Pita Inn but love Grecian Kitchen next door (Dempster). They have a wonderful greek chicken platter complete with lemon potatos and orzo. And super cheap. IMHO that the best gyros are not from Pita Inn but from "The Works" located in Niles just east of Golf Mill. It is on Golf Rd. in the Talisman shopping center and is frankly a humble hot dog/hamburger joint with great french fries and the best gyros in the world (INMHO). It has won several readers' polls too. So despite Pita Inn's presence now in Niles, I am staying with The Works.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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We like Pita Inn but love Grecian Kitchen next door (Dempster).  They have a wonderful greek chicken platter complete with lemon potatos and orzo.  And super cheap.  IMHO that the best gyros are not from Pita Inn but from "The Works" located in Niles just east of Golf Mill. 

Pita Inn doesn't serve "gyros" per se, but rather shawarma--more of a Middle Eastern version of gyros. Also, Pita Inn's shawarma is made of beef, whereas traditional gyros is made from beef, lamb & yummy spices.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to the Pita Inn yesterday for lunch with a few friends. We all loved the food and had an excellent time. It was filled with people, but not overly crowded, and we easily found a place to sit. But now I can see why they don't need to raise the prices. Ordered the business lunch special (Shish Kabab, Kifta Kabab, Shawarma, Falafil served with rice, salad and Pita bread), and also got a yogurt salad and fresh squeezed lemonade. All for only $6.30 or something like that!

The yogurt salad was fresh tasting (it's really just plain yogurt, chopped cucumber, and mint) and worked good as a sauce for the meat inside the pitas, kinda like with the cucumber/onion sauce on gyros. I recommend going with a combo dish the first time you eat here, to find out what you like best. I enjoyed it all though, so I'll probably just stick with this. Oh, and the Vegetarian Falafil patties--made from ground chickpeas, vegetables and various spices, and then deepfried--were exceptional. Very crispy and flavorful! You could almost just order a plate of these for a meal...

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Went to the Pita Inn yesterday for lunch with a few friends.  We all loved the food and had an excellent time.  It was filled with people, but not overly crowded, and we easily found a place to sit.  But now I can see why they don't need to raise the prices.  Ordered the business lunch special (Shish Kabab, Kifta Kabab, Shawarma, Falafil served with rice, salad and Pita bread), and also got a yogurt salad and fresh squeezed lemonade.  All for only $6.30 or something like that!

The yogurt salad was fresh tasting (it's really just plain yogurt, chopped cucumber, and mint) and worked good as a sauce for the meat inside the pitas, kinda like with the cucumber/onion sauce on gyros.  I recommend going with a combo dish the first time you eat here, to find out what you like best.  I enjoyed it all though, so I'll probably just stick with this.  Oh, and the Vegetarian Falafil patties--made from ground chickpeas, vegetables and various spices, and then deepfried--were exceptional.  Very crispy and flavorful!  You could almost just order a plate of these for a meal...

Glad you enjoyed it, Ryne.

You're right about the volume they generate--the place is never empty. In fact, they expanded the place only two years ago, only to see their customers fill up the space immediately.

They do make their own yogurt there--it is quite fresh and yummy. Oh--and that's their nickname for me: Yummy Yummy, since that's what I always utter as I pick up my tray o' food at the counter.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 3 months later...
How many eGullet noshers have visited Pita Inn?

I've eaten here since 1989 and they have never raised their prices.

Been to PI more than a few times. Good food, however I think they are moving down in quality.

Not raising prices might be nice on the pocketbook, but does not say much for maintaining higher quality ingrediants or improving/changing an item.

I really enjoy Pita Town, located at 9001 N. Milwaukee Ave (just north of Dempster), Phone: 847.965.7202.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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Not raising prices might be nice on the pocketbook, but does not say much for maintaining higher quality ingrediants or improving/changing an item.

I really enjoy Pita Town, located at 9001 N. Milwaukee Ave (just north of Dempster)

There's a lot of businesses in that area. In my early 20s, I went there a few times with a couple friends. Although I didn't go as often as they did (2-3x a week), I enjoyed it. Being at an age were money was tight and McDonald's was not the preferred choice, places like this are especially good to have around for the lunch time crowd.

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We've been getting lunch from Pita Inn (Skokie) on a regular basis for at least the last 15 years and no one in my office has noticed any (significant) drop in quality. We don't order everything on the menu but we do order a pretty wide range of items. I don't believe the portions have gotten any smaller over that time either. Our one complaint might be that the food is a bit more inconsistent than it used to be, which we simply attribute to how busy they are and employee turnover.

SW, what kind of quality drop-off have you noticed?

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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We've been getting lunch from Pita Inn (Skokie) on a regular basis for at least the last 15 years and no one in my office has noticed any (significant) drop in quality.  We don't order everything on the menu but we do order a pretty wide range of items.  I don't believe the portions have gotten any smaller over that time either.  Our one complaint might be that the food is a bit more inconsistent than it used to be, which we simply attribute to how busy they are and employee turnover.

SW, what kind of quality drop-off have you noticed?

=R=

Actually, employee turnover at Pita Inn is much lower than average for the industry.

I've fressed there since 1989, and I know some employees have been there ever since. I know most of the employees by name, and they all say that Falah (the owner) treats them very well. Smart business practice, since well-trained employees and consistent faces behind the counter make the place consistent.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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We've been getting lunch from Pita Inn (Skokie) on a regular basis for at least the last 15 years and no one in my office has noticed any (significant) drop in quality.  We don't order everything on the menu but we do order a pretty wide range of items.  I don't believe the portions have gotten any smaller over that time either.  Our one complaint might be that the food is a bit more inconsistent than it used to be, which we simply attribute to how busy they are and employee turnover.

SW, what kind of quality drop-off have you noticed?

=R=

Actually, employee turnover at Pita Inn is much lower than average for the industry.

I've fressed there since 1989, and I know some employees have been there ever since. I know most of the employees by name, and they all say that Falah (the owner) treats them very well. Smart business practice, since well-trained employees and consistent faces behind the counter make the place consistent.

Really that's not surprising at all...it seems like he has devised a winning formula. Every once in a while I see a new face behind the counter, but not too often.

We actually ordered it for lunch today (this thread inspired it) and it was terrific.

I had the shish kabob plate...tender and flavorful...and a little taste of shawarma - Yum! :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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SW, what kind of quality drop-off have you noticed?

None really, I just have never been overwhelmed by PI.

The quality question I asked has more to deal with the question of, "could your business survive on the same prices as it charged in '89"?

something has had to change. As posted above, it does not seem to be the employees, Also the positive posts above would suggest that it is not the food.

Which leaves me with the impression that the PI margins were obscenly high to begin with or........ (you fill in the blank)

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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SW, what kind of quality drop-off have you noticed?

None really, I just have never been overwhelmed by PI.

The quality question I asked has more to deal with the question of, "could your business survive on the same prices as it charged in '89"?

something has had to change. As posted above, it does not seem to be the employees, Also the positive posts above would suggest that it is not the food.

Which leaves me with the impression that the PI margins were obscenly high to begin with or........ (you fill in the blank)

Pita Inn's spokesman here...

I have a hunch that Pita Inn's gross margins per item sold have declined over the years, but so have the owner's expenses. Falah bought the building a while ago (and now purchased the adjacent site for parking), so his overhead stays down. He also started baking pita bread in-house instead of purchasing it from a bakery, though Falah tells me that this move was to control the pita's quality. (Indeed, I do find his homemade pita to be fresher than the brand he served previously.)

So, as I see it, his marginal costs decrease as he reaches a certain business volume (say, 1,000 sandwiches per day). At high business volumes, Falah can buy larger quantities of veggies, chickpeas, et cetera and get price breaks per unit on these commodities. So if the curve of his marginal cost function flattens out at high volumes while his price function is linear, he can make money as he keeps volume up.

This concludes today's economics lecture.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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None really, I just have never been overwhelmed by PI.

The quality question I asked has more to deal with the question of, "could your business survive on the same prices as it charged in '89"?

something has had to change. As posted above, it does not seem to be the employees, Also the positive posts above would suggest that it is not the food.

Which leaves me with the impression that the PI margins were obscenly high to begin with or........ (you fill in the blank)

Not being 'overwhelmed' is simply a matter of taste and on that issue we can happily agree to disagree. :smile: A place either does it for you or it doesn't. I will definitely try Pita Town (on your recommendation) some time in the near future and I appreciate the tip.

I didn't know that PI's prices hadn't changed since 1989, but if that is the case, with multiple locations, I'll bet that the owners can still generate more total net profit even if they are operating with a smaller percentage net margin. As we all know (and as Fresser detailed so nicely :smile:), there are several reasons for that. In either case, I've always considered it a quality 'cheap eat', so I certainly don't begrudge the owner if he went through a period where he was making an 'obscenely high' margin--especially since he was able to turn out such a decent product at a relatively low cost. I can't say I've ever encountered anyone who didn't think that PI was a good value. If the alternative is true and he's skimping on the ingredients now to stretch his margin, it certainly doesn't show up in the food. IMO, the nature of the cuisine doesn't lend itself well to doing so anyway.

FWIW, I sell industrial ingredients and many items we sell are currently at historical price lows. I don't know if that would apply to the ingredients that PI buys, but it may. Are beef, rice, lettuce, etc. really more expensive now, than they were 15 years ago? I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I'm sure that data exist somewhere. I can say that at my company, prices on many of our items are actually lower than they were 15 years ago and we are a growing company which hasn't acquired any other companies.

Anyway, it's fun to debate but main thing I'm taking out of this conversation is your tip about Pita Town. It's always great to try to a new place--especially when it's recommended by someone who has a love of the game.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Not being 'overwhelmed' is simply a matter of taste and on that issue we can happily agree to disagree.  :smile:  A place either does it for you or it doesn't.

Quite right. With all the glowing press on PI, perhaps I should give it a try again.

What do y'all like at PI?

(please no "everything is great" posts, if I see that I believe the poster is not being critical enough or has not dined around enough to know what is a stand out item)

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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What do y'all like at PI?

I love PI's hummus--it's my very favorite hummus of all time. It has an intense flavor and a very smooth/fine texture. I'm not a fan of their baba ganoush. It's way too smokey for my liking.

Also, I think their shish kabob is great. The meat is very lean, flavorful and tender. It's almost never dry. I usually get it as a plate (with rice, lettuce, tomato and tahina), but the sandwich is also good if you eat it there. To go, they can get soggy.

The shawarma is also outstanding. Again, I prefer the plate, but the sandwich is also good. The flavor of the meat is mild but distinctive. This is probably a very subjective area because at no 2 places does the shawarma taste the same. Over the years, I've come to appeciate, love and even crave this particular shawarma.

I occasionally order the falafel. It's a generous portion and even when it travels (as a plate anyway), it's crispy on the outside and tender (but not crumbly) on the inside.

The kibbeh is very good but they seem to be out of it about 50% of the time. Not sure why that is, but if you're in the mood and they have it, I think it's worth a try.

I have to also mention the condiments because both their tahina and their hot sauce are first rate. When we carry out and forget to ask for them for some (can I fire someone for this?), it does take a bit of the luster off the whole experience.

The lunch special is convenient and very tasty too. It's a combo plate of shawarma, shish kabob and (a pretty standard rendition of) kefta served on a bed of rice with lettuce, sliced tomatoes and tahina sauce.

I tend to rotate the above items into my order on a regular basis. BTW, the rice and the pitas are pretty standard issue. The pita is always fresh and the rice is flavorful but nothing special IMO.

What do you like at Pita Town? I will definitely be giving it a try soon.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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What do y'all like at PI?

The kibbeh is very good but they seem to be out of it about 50% of the time. Not sure why that is, but if you're in the mood and they have it, I think it's worth a try.

=R=

And I thought it was a conspiracy: "Sorry. No kibbeh today." I must have heard this fifty times before I finally got one. :sad:

Anyway, the vegetarian dishes are the most consistent items on the menu. Their yogurt salad (with cucumber and mint) makes a wonderful topping for the falafel sandwich. Their tabbouleh is fresh and crisp, but it's intensely lemony. Sometimes the lemon is a bit overpowering

Also, I like the baba ghanouj--it has a slightly chunky texture and nice garlic and lemon accents. Hummous is good as well, with a nutty flavor to it, but I prefer the baba.

As for the meat, I frankly find the shawarma to be on the dry side, and it's a poor substitute for gyros. A better choice would be shish kebob, which they marinate and then broil. Maybe a little chewy, but pretty good.

Probably the best item on the menu is the one I can't eat anymore: kinafa. It's a delectable dessert with a sweet cheese base (cheese halloumi, perhaps?) topped with grated carrots and pine nuts and flavored with honey. Get it warm with a Turkish coffee and you're in heaven.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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Maybe a little chewy, but pretty good.

I'm actually surprised how infrequently this is the case. It does happen, but I find it to be tender and moist far more often than not.

Fresser...no dessert anymore because you are diabetic, is that correct?

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Fresser...no dessert anymore because you are diabetic, is that correct?

=R=

Aye, Ronnie, I am officially sucrose-averse. This also means that I can't imbibe--much to the relief of Maggie, Aurora and others who have seen my wild side. :cool:

Back on topic, the newest Pita Inn to open (just north of Golf Mill on Milwaukee Avenue) will have some new dishes, including fattoush, foul (pronounced "fool") and other fixins. I keep asking them to name a sandwich after me, but so far they demur. :laugh:

Edited by Fresser (log)

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pita Inn's P.R. man here...

The third store is now open on Milwaukee Avenue (just north of Golf Mill Shopping Mall) in Glenview. It is positively GORGEOUS! The dining room is twice the size of the Skokie location's, and Falah (the owner) has added fattoush and dolma (or dolmades, if you're Greek :smile: ) to the menu.

What I noticed first, however, is the number of American flags that Falah has placed all over the restaurant. Just inside the lobby is a glass-bulb "ornament" in the design of Old Glory. The owner really loves the U.S.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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  • 9 months later...

As I have posted above, I love the food at Pita Inn. We have it (carry-out) for lunch once or twice per week at my office. But lately, they seem to be way busier than they are able to handle. Due to space limitations at the counter, heavy lunch-time crowds and the way carry out orders are packed, it's almost impossible to check a carry-out order before leaving Pita Inn in Skokie.

Over the last couple of months we have encountered repeated problems with items missing from our carry-out orders. We have been shorted everything from tahina to hot sauce to sandwiches. Today, in a highly ironic incident, our order was 'shipped' without any pitas. :sad::angry:

I suppose that this is, in some part, our own fault. Maybe we should be digging through the bags after we return to our cars and before we leave their parking lot to see if everything we ordered is there. But it would still be difficult. Items are wrapped in unlableled foil parcels and piled into exceedingly weak brown paper bags, which often break. Regardless, since our office is somewhat far from PI-Skokie (15 minutes each way), going back to pickup the missing items is not really an option. When we call to inform them about the missing items, they're always apologetic but no one offers to 'make it right' by bringing the missing items to us.

So, I still recommend the food at Pita Inn but IMO, you must be very careful to check your carry-out order before you leave there--or eat in. I'm getting really frustrated with the repeatedly missing items. The rest of the guys in my office, while irritated by this, still love the joint. As for me, I plan to take some time off from Pita Inn. The frequency of errors there over the past several months is far greater than any other place we order from and I'm just done with it for the time being.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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As I have posted above, I love the food at Pita Inn.  We have it (carry-out) for lunch once or twice per week at my office.  But lately, they seem to be way busier than they are able to handle.  Due to space limitations at the counter, heavy lunch-time crowds and the way carry out orders are packed, it's almost impossible to check a carry-out order before leaving Pita Inn in Skokie.

Over the last couple of months we have encountered repeated problems with items missing from our carry-out orders.  We have been shorted everything from tahina to hot sauce to sandwiches.  Today, in a highly ironic incident, our order was 'shipped' without any pitas. :sad::angry:

I suppose that this is, in some part, our own fault.  Maybe we should be digging through the bags after we return to our cars and before we leave their parking lot to see if everything we ordered is there...  When we call to inform them about the missing items, they're always apologetic but no one offers to 'make it right' by bringing the missing items to us.

Ronnie,

I will be speaking with the owner and also the manager of the Skokie store about your incidents.

You're right about the breakneck pace of the place--they're probably working BEYOND their own capacity to fill take-out orders properly, and no one should have to double-check a take-out order before leaving.

If you want to PM me with your work phone # and address, I'm certain that either Mo or Falah will contact you either to comp your office a meal or otherwise "make things right."

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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That's a very nice offer, Fresser. I really just had to vent. If this message finds its way back to PI's ownership, in any form, it would be a nice bonus. But really I just want them--and their customers--to be aware that it's happening. I'm sure it's not intentional on PI's part and maybe the owners simply don't know that it's happening (assuming that we're not the only ones). If I owned PI, I'd definitely want to know if things like this were happening on a regular basis.

I came here to post about it because I was coming here anyway. But, I should also let them know directly...and I will.

Even after it happened, we all appreciated that the lunch was still very tasty. I ate my falafels sans pita and they were great. The jerusalem salad was terrific and their hummus is just about my favorite hummus on earth. Of course, it's better on pita than on a spoon :biggrin:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I was out sick yesterday, but when I stepped into the office this morning I noticed 2 huge bags of pita sitting on our lunch table. Sure enough, the boys ordered lunch from Pita Inn yesterday and, apparently, the Pita Embargo is now over :biggrin:

Even after 6 burley-men had lunch, nearly 2 dozen pita remained.

My guys did not mention the previous problem to anyone at the restaurant (they're far more laid back than I) but the crew at Pita Inn certainly got it right yesterday nonetheless. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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