Pita Pit succeeds under New Local Ownership
Name: Pat and Sam Peery
Address: 1011 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, KS
Local Community: Lawrence, KS
Phone Number: 414-628-4228 (Pat) 785-551-1235 (Sam) 785-856-2500 (Store)
Downtown Lawrence restaurant has been acquired by new local owners. Father and son team, Pat and Sam Peery have formed a new company and have acquired the Pita Pit restaurant at 1011 Massachusetts Street with plans to grow the business into a multi-unit operation.
Pat Peery, a 1981 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law, resides in Lawrence with his wife of 35 years, Cheri. After practicing law in Lawrence for several years, Pat spent two decades directing the corporate real estate development for Walmart and Kohl’s. For the last 10 years, Pat has been working as a consultant, adviser, developer and investor in the retail real estate industry with offices in Chicago and Kansas City. Pat will supervise the strategy, growth and development of the new company
Sam Peery who currently resides in Overland Park will be the manager of the Lawrence Pita Pit and will supervise restaurant operations. Sam, who was born in Lawrence and attended both KU and Indiana University, has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 15.
Pat and Sam had long desired to go into business together as partners but the right opportunity had not presented itself until the former owners of the Lawrence Pita Pit decided to move forward with other ventures. The strong prospects for growth within the Pita Pit franchise system while at the same time becoming a part of the vibrant downtown Lawrence business community were the key motivators for Pat and Sam to acquire the business. The duo took over the store on July 25.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
We are excited to be taking over an established business in the community we love within the shadow of the KU campus. I am a lifetime Jayhawk and active in the endowment and alumni associations, the Williams Fund and the Law School where I currently serve on the Board of Governors. We are both very active physically and maintain lifestyles that value healthy eating. So, we are very excited to offering a healthy eating alternative in the quick serve restaurant business to the population of this great city and campus
Cheri and I have been married for 35 years. Cheri, also a KU graduate, owns and operate Topiary Tree, an antique and unique home furnishing store in North Lawrence. My career began in downtown Lawrence in 1981 where I had my first office as an attorney in the Allen and Cooley law firm at 9th and Mass. For the last 30 years, I have been working in the retail real estate industry, first as real estate counsel at Payless Shoe Source in Topeka, then the director of real estate at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville, AK, and finally as senior vice president of real estate at Kohl’s Department Stores in Wisconsin until deciding to launch my commercial real estate enterprises in 2005. Cheri and I relocated back to Lawrence in 2012 where I continue to work actively in commercial real estate with Lane4 Property Group in Kansas City and Klaff Realty in Chicago.
My son Sam and I have formed a new company that has acquired the Lawrence Pita Pit location. We had been looking for a business to operate together as partners that was located conveniently to both of us. Sam had been a regular customer of the Pita Pit in Bloomington, IN during his college years and when we heard the Lawrence Pita Pit was available, we decided to take the leap.
Why did you choose to become a franchisee with Pita Pit? How did you learn about the brand?
We both really like the unique product that is truly differentiated among the quick serve sandwich chains. The propriety pita bread and preparation method of stuffing the pita with a very large selection of fresh toppings, cheeses, spreads and sauces with meats and veggies grilled to order allow the customer to quickly create their own unique combinations with a huge variety of flavors and nutritional values. Our research into the Pita Pit franchise system also revealed that the franchiser was very forward thinking and had plans for sustainable and profitable growth of the brand. With fewer than 300 restaurants in the U.S., we felt that Pita Pit was a great situation for us to align ourselves with an organization that would allow enormous opportunity to grow our business should we prove to be successful operators.
What’s next for you and your business? Do you have any development/expansion plans with the brand?
Our expectation is that once we have proven to ourselves, through the successful operation of the downtown Lawrence store, that this success can be replicated, we will be looking to open additional Pita Pit units in nearby areas and potentially in other markets as well.
Previous ownership had maintained a stable business for several years, but had not fully taken advantage of a much larger opportunity we feel exists in the Lawrence market to expand the catering business, engage in business to business marketing and improve the speed and efficiency of our delivery service. We intend to do those things. We have already started free delivery throughout downtown Lawrence and have put a dedicated delivery vehicle into service. We recently catered an event for 100 people. We have added fresh fruit smoothies to our menu and have added a daily smoothie happy hour. We have installed a new sign, opened up our rear door to the public parking lot, added a large screen TV and free high speed WIFI for our guests. We have brightened up the lighting and will be refreshing other parts of the restaurant soon including adding sidewalk dining on Mass Street.