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Local eatery is a peach of a Pit

Two men resurrect closed restaurant in Gateway Village shopping center

Posted: July 20, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Childhood friends Nathaniel Victor, 26, left, and Chris Salazar, 26, have teamed up to re-open the Pita Pit at the Gateway Village shopping center in Valencia. The grand opening was Monday.

It's not quite from scratch, but two friends served up something fresh this week when they re-opened a Pita Pit franchise in Valencia.

Nathaniel Victor and Chris Salazar, both 26 and Santa Clarita residents, are co-owners of the eatery located in the Gateway Village shopping center at the corner of Newhall Ranch and Rye Canyon roads.

Salazar's top three concerns, he said, are cleanliness, customer service and quality of product.

"I want people to come in and feel like family," he said.

The two Bakersfield natives want to squash any negative perceptions customers had about the previous owners.

Monday was the first day in several months the Pit's doors were open; the original owner had the franchise agreement revoked and went out of business last April.

"The franchise was revoked due to them not abiding by their franchise agreement," said Aidan Belit, an opening specialist for Pita Pit.

Victor said the owners left behind a shop that was dirty, took some of the restaurant equipment and left several utility bills unpaid.

Started in 1995, Pita Pit has 196 franchises in the United States and 120 in Canada, he said.

Victor is CEO of Sonic Electronix Inc. and said he frequented Pita Pit for lunch. When he arrived one day to find it closed, he made calls to the company to find out how to acquire the franchise.

Salazar - who was planning a move to Colorado to pursue a culinary career - will oversee operations, and Victor is the financing partner, dividing his time between the Pita Pit and his successful electronics company.

Victor said he invested roughly $80,000 to get the doors of the Pita Pit open again.

The two plan to keep the restaurant open late to compete with a nearby Wendy's and give diners more options.

"We really want to maintain the healthy aspect," Victor said.

Additionally, he said, they plan to offer $5 pita days, a customer loyalty program, delivery and at least one local menu item.

If all goes well, Victor said, he hopes to open a second franchise in Valencia within the year.

Pita Pit, located at 28253 Newhall Ranch Road, is open from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


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