Since those formative college years, Pita Pit’s wrapped-up goodness has been a constant for Jamie Stanners. Now she’s the entrepreneur in charge of her own franchise set to open on February 28 in Elmira’s Foodland plaza.“When I went to college in Barrie, I fell in love with Pita Pit; it was just one of those things we ate a lot of,” she said on location last week, watching builders put on the final touches inside the freshly-painted store.
Stanners bought the franchise two years ago and was just waiting for Woolwich Township to approve the Sobeys Capital Inc. building project that now houses her restaurant. Previously, she worked in the marketing department for John Deere.
“I’ve been doing marketing for John Deere for the last few years, and as much as I love marketing, I wanted to do something for myself.”
Surrounded by entrepreneurism – Stanners’ husband and father both run their own businesses – it was time to try something new.
“My husband has always had his own businesses. My dad has his own businesses, and I just wanted to have my own. I have two small children and hopefully it will give some flexibility eventually.
“It’s going to be a little crazy for a while, but it’s a product and a franchise that I am really passionate about. It’s healthy, it’s really high quality food and people don’t want to eat fast food all the time anymore. It’s a really good fit for my lifestyle, and I hope everyone else’s lifestyle in Elmira.”
Stanners has a bustling home life, reflective of an entrepreneurial spirit, she said. Her husband runs a 100-acre organic apple farm. The couple lives in Listowel and also runs a silk screen embroidery business. On top of it all, Stanners is launching Elmira’s Pita Pit. Their kids are a part of the energetic lifestyle too.
“Life is always crazy at our house, but it’s good to be busy. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t busy. My kids have adapted very well to it – we make them a part of everything, and we run around lots with them too. We’ve always just been really busy people and I guess I feel that’s what you have to do: you set a goal for yourself and you just do it,” she said.
The business of family and work life will bring people to the door of her restaurant, Stanners hopes.
“People are going to and from the arena, all of the factories here. There are a lot of young families that live in Elmira, and I feel like they are always on the go taking their kids here, there and everywhere – they are going to pop in here when they need a quick meal.”
Stanners thrives on a busy schedule, and the last few months have certainly been hectic, but as it often goes with business, everything comes down to location, location, location.
“That’s why I waited so long. There aren’t many locations like this where you get good parking, and it’s on the way to Waterloo and the recreation complex. It seems like a really good location,” she said.
Work on the 6,900- square-foot building started in September, after the developer received the necessary approvals for an expansion on the site.
About 15 new staff will be employed at Pita Pit, trained in all of the roles necessary to run the store and serve customers.
“It’s a big teamwork atmosphere in that people learn to do every role. So whether you are running cash, the grill, actually rolling pitas or doing prep in the back, everyone learns every aspect. And so far the staff are really open to that. Everyone is local that I’ve hired. I wanted them to be from Elmira and know the community,” Stanners said.
Pita Pit is a chain restaurant and much of its menu offerings and interior décor match other updated franchise locations. Stanners hopes future involvement in Elmira – working with sports teams and other initiatives – will give this location its defining characteristic.
“I’m a pretty big believer in working with the community that you are in. I would really like to get involved in the community. I just want to make sure we are a part of this community and we help out wherever we can.”
So what’s the pita connoisseur’s own wrapped favourite?
“My favourite pita? Probably the Philly cheese steak. You get your vegetables grilled, your cheese melted on the grill too. It’s fantastic,” she said.
That gooey feast and Pita Pit’s other offering will be available starting February 28 at the Arthur Street South location.