Valley mainstay Pita Jungle is planning to move into the former home of Osteria on McKellips Road between Higley and Recker roads.
Co-founder Bassel Osmani said owners Jeff Bufano, Ian Stupar, Nick Scropos and Matthew Jenkins will run this higher-end version.
“Every one of our jungles is designed to mimic the neighborhoods they’re in,” Osmani said. “We’ve never built them like cookie cutters. This one is going to be inspired by Red Mountain and Usery Mountain.
“They got this idea and we’re blindly agreeing to whatever they say.”
Osmani co-founded Pita Jungle with Nelly Kohsok and Fouad Khodr in 1994 after graduating from ASU to fulfil a need for healthier restaurants around the Tempe campus. Pita Jungle now boasts more than 20 locations.
They are hoping to open the Northeast Mesa Pita Jungle in November, but they’re allowing wiggle room for construction delays. Osmani said this was the perfect location.
“We’ve been scoping out that area for a while, looking on the Power Road corridor next to Las Sendas, a little farther east,” he said. “This is pretty much the same clientele; within 5 minutes from those communities. It looks good and it’s a good deal. There’s good parking, so it should be perfect.”
Pita Jungle specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, with ingredients like whole wheat grains, fresh fruits, olives, lemons and other citrus; summer vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, beans, summer squash and zucchini. Other protein sources include chickpeas and lentils, lamb and fresh fish.
“Our mainstay, obviously for the last 25 years, has been a Mediterranean-inspired diet—before all those dietary fads came up,” he said.
“Today, we’re using that same foundation. That menu can be adapted to keto, paleo or any other trendy way people like to consume food. The menu is super balanced. We fortify it with seasonal kitchen craft. Every quarter we have a new menu up front and center with all these things people want today. It tastes great with good ingredients made from scratch every day. It’s super affordable in an environment that’s nice. You can go in there, take a date, friends or family. There’s a very, very broad demographic. That’s what put us on the map.”