Pita Brothers to open on-campus location

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Photo by Madeline Pieschel / madeline.pieschel@marquette.edu

Brothers Vijay and Manoj Swearingen make food in their food truck.
Photo by Madeline Pieschel / madeline.pieschel@marquette.edu

Pita Brothers, a popular local food truck, will park its mobile food service this semester and move into the former Campus Dollar location on Wisconsin Avenue.

This is Pita Brothers’ first brick-and-mortar location, a lot which it will share with another, unpicked tenant. It will be located in the 1600 block of W. Wisconsin Ave. alongside Starbucks, Cousins Subs and Walgreens.

“The space is being divided into two spaces, with Pita Brothers leasing roughly half of the space that was previously vacant,” said Jenny Alexander, director of purchasing for the Marquette University Purchasing Department, in an email. “The Office of Finance continues to focus on supporting merchant partnerships that benefit both the university community and business owners, and is excited to be adding Pita Brothers to campus.”

Vijay Swearingen, who co-founded Pita Brothers with his brother Manoj in 2009, said he is excited to come to campus and closely interact with his patrons.

“Marquette, I think, lacks and maybe still does (lack) enough healthy food options,” Swearingen said. “Obviously, you have to create a menu that has healthy food options, but you have to do it in an efficient manner because people, whether they’re students or faculty or work nearby, are always pressed for time.”

Pita Brothers will operate much differently as a restaurant compared to a food truck. Swearingen said he plans to modernize his business. He said he has many ideas including an app and the use of iPads, but he said he’s unsure if he can implement them all.

The restaurant will, however, be efficient.

“We’re trying to be cutting-edge with everything,” Swearingen said. “(The restaurant) is definitely a much more modern concept. The only thing that won’t be modern is MarquetteCash.”

A menu expansion is in the works for the business. It’s not finalized yet, but the Swearingen brothers plan to cater to the Marquette community’s desires, so they’re open to suggestions from customers.

“We’re not 100 percent sure how we are going to finalize the menu because we want to work with the students,” Swearingen said. “We will add more choices but there won’t be an incredible amount of more choices because we want to make sure we move things as efficiently as we can.”

Moving into a retail space is a dream come true for the Swearingen brothers. While parked on campus as a food truck, they formed relationships with their customers.

“The people that have bought pita from our truck are directly responsible for helping us get to a situation where we can open a (restaurant,)” Swearingen said. “It’s a street-to-restaurant type of story where we start on the street, develop a following, friendships or acquaintanceships with the people we serve, and then we take their money and we use that to directly expand our operations and hours to be available to them more often.”

As for the future of the Pita Brothers food truck, its last ride will likely be this fall. Swearingen wants to focus on the restaurant but hasn’t ruled out bringing the truck back in the spring.

“(The truck) will continue to operate until the (restaurant) is officially open and then we have to focus on the management of that (restaurant,)” Swearingen said. “Around November we should park the truck.”

Pita Brothers is one of several new restaurants anticipated to open on campus this fall. The Ivy on Fourteenth apartment structure will add Burger King, Subway and Tangled Noodles and More.

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