Pita Brothers closes after three years

Pita+Bros+started+off+as+a+food+truck.+%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Photo+by+Rebecca+Rebholz

Pita Bros started off as a food truck. Photo courtesy of Photo by Rebecca Rebholz

Pita Brothers, a former restaurant located at 1614 W. Wisconsin Ave., closed May 25 after losing money each month, former manager Vijay Swearingen said.

Swearingen, who was manager since the store opened in June 2015, said the loss of money eventually became too difficult to sustain.

“We could count on our regular clientele but simply couldn’t garner enough attention from people living and working in that area,” Swearingen said in an email. “It got to a point where we were counting on more and more deliveries off campus just to make ends meet.”

The former restaurant, which began as a food truck, served a mix of Middle Eastern, American and Mediterranean foods to customers. There are no other Pita Brothers locations.

Autumm Hirchert, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said Pita Brothers was the first place she ever ate at on campus. She said she and her parents needed a place to grab food quickly during freshman move-in day.

“We were all pretty tired and stressed, so we needed something good — fast. I got a falafel wrap. The only reason I remember that is that I went there several times after that and got the same thing,” Hirchert said.

Swearingen said his favorite part about running Pita Brothers was putting smiles on his regular customers’ faces.

“Initially my brother and I ran the store during the first year, then I took over by myself when he decided to pursue another career choice,” Swearingen said.

Swearingen said he appreciated the customers who stayed with the business since its food truck days.

“I guess my favorite memories are just a culmination of interactions with our loyal patrons. Some students, some food truck fans, some people working nearby at places like WISN Channel 12 or the BloodCenter,” he said.

Hirchert said she was sad this fall when she saw Pita Brothers was closed.

“I loved Pita Bros. It was on my way home to O’Donnell, and there used to be literally nothing over there,” Hirchert said.

Julia McNeil, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she is a vegetarian, so she enjoyed the meat-free options Pita Brothers provided.

“I liked it because it was close (and) convenient and cheap. I was happy to see Mediterranean food because it’s so hard to find decent vegetarian food on campus,” McNeil said in a message.

Hirchert said the restaurant did not seem to be the most popular place to eat on campus.

“I don’t remember many people ever being in there when I would order. In all honesty, it wasn’t the best atmosphere inside,” Hirchert said.

Swearington said owning Pita Bros taught him that it takes more than just good food for a business to succeed.

He said he believes Pita Brothers needed a “more comfortable ambiance, which I believe we fell a little short of doing.” He said owning a business definitely kept him on his toes. 

McNeil said she wished she tried the restaurant’s breakfast wraps before it closed.

“There’s just an empty hole in the wall where it used to be, and it’s reminding me that I never tried their breakfast wraps because I was always like, ‘Nah, I’ll try it next time,’ but now they are gone,” McNeil said.

Hirchert said Pita Brothers will always hold a special place in her heart.

“Especially the falafel,” she said.

University spokesperson Chris Jenkins did not comment on what will replace the former Pita Brothers location but said students should “stay tuned” for future announcements.