A popular Mediterranean restaurant is coming to West University Place. Craft Pita will open a second location at the Plaza in the Park, a Kroger-anchored shopping center at the corner of Buffalo Speedway and Westpark.
Chef-owner Rafael Nasr tells CultureMap he looked at 40 possibilities before settling on the former Kenny & Ziggy’s space. He thinks the shopping center, which will add locations of Los Tios Mexican Kitchen and Adair Kitchen in the coming months, is a good fit for his Lebanese fare. In particular, he appreciates the proximity to both Greenway Plaza and the Texas Medical Center, both of which offer the potential for catering sales, combined with the young families who live nearby.
“The time for Mediterranean is as good as it's ever been,” Nasr says. “People are looking for healthy food [and] more locally sourced food. We just want to strike while the iron is hot.”
Craft Pita fulfills those needs in a variety of ways, starting with the use of family recipes and high quality ingredients. The restaurant uses Naked Truth chicken and akaushi beef from HeartBrand Beef for its pita sandwiches and bowls. Olive oil comes from a family orchard in Lebanon. Local Lebanese grocery store Phoenicia supplies all of the restaurant’s pita bread. Nasr brings a range of experiences to the restaurant, including operating a food truck while he was a student at TCU and time working for Pappasito’s in a variety of roles.
From its opening in August 2020 until now, that commitment to quality has led to strong growth and positive reviews. Yelp named it one of America’s top 100 places to eat in 2020. Nasr and his mother Claudia are regular presence in the dining room, ensuring service remains a priority.
Moving to a new location will allow the restaurant to add kebabs to the menu. Nasr also plans to expand his selection of hot and cold starters by adding items such as a mezze sampler. On the beverage side, the restaurant will add both coffee and espresso.
Renovations will mostly be focused on cosmetic changes and getting the proper equipment installed. If all goes according to plan, Nasr hopes to open in early October.
“We’re trying to brighten it up a little bit, add our Mediterranean flare. We’re building our own counter, adding our signature Mediterranean tile wall,” Nasr says. Later, he adds, “We’re going to knock out one of the front walls to add another door. We want a little more natural light.”
Nasr says he spoke to Kenny & Ziggy’s owner Ziggy Gruber about the space before signing the lease The veteran restaurateur offered some words of wisdom to help Nasr prepare for the opening.
“He said you have to make a good first impression,” Nasr says. “With me and my mom walking around the dining room, I think we’ll be able to do that.”