ST. GEORGE – Mad Pita Express, a new restaurant in St. George, offers diners unique food and a comfortably casual atmosphere.
“In a nutshell, our food is Mediterranean,” Josh Larson, owner of Mad Pita Express, said. “It’s a cross between Greek and Arabic and Israeli.”
The menu offers pitas, gyros, baklava and more.
Larson is an anesthesiologist at Dixie Regional Medical Center and has never owned a restaurant before. He met Mad Pita Express’s cooks, John and Basila Graham, at a restaurant they owned in Las Vegas.
“I went (to their restaurant), ate the food, and thought this we could use something like this in St. George,” Larson said.
Larson convinced John and Basila Graham to relocate to St. George to open a restaurant here.
“I thought that it would be an adventure,” Larson said. “I definitely wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have confidence in them, that they could do 99 percent of everything that needs to be done.”
Basila Graham does most of the cooking and John Graham designed the atmosphere. John made the stained glass wall hangings himself. The “Chart of World History” hanging beside the door can keep a reader occupied for a while.
“Basila’s the culinary artist and John’s more of the culinary artist,” Larson said. “He also does the plants and stuff.”
Larson still works as an anesthesiologist. Though he doesn’t have a lot of time to spend at the restaurant, the Grahams keep everything running smoothly.
“I get over here enough to eat and I’m involved a little bit with the administrative stuff, but (the Grahams) have done this before a lot,” Larson said. “They’ve opened several restaurants before and that’s basically why I decided to take that leap.”
Mad Pita Express opened Feb. 1 and has done well, especially considering they’ve done no advertising.
“All our advertising has been word of mouth and location. We haven’t done any other advertising yet,” Larson said. “Word has been going out, people have been coming in and we’ve gotten good feedback.”
At Mad Pita Express, there’s something for everyone – even picky children.
“We’ll make a grilled cheese pita for the children,” Larson said. “Sometimes Basila will make a pizza pita.”
Mad Pita Express isn’t fast food – it’s “good food fast and for a reasonable price,” Larson said. Everything is cooked to order and no heat lamps are used. Customers can watch the staff cook through a cutout in the wall.
The staff at Mad Pita Express strives to make customers happy.
“If you buy something and you don’t like it, we’ll take it back and give you something else. That’s just how we do business,” Larson said. “That’s the kind of attitude you have to have in a town like this. Try everything. If you don’t like it, we’ll take it back. We’ll exchange it for something you do like until we get it right.”
Mad Pita Express is very popular with families – something Larson didn’t expect. When the restaurant opened, they had only one high chair. Now they have several high chairs and have installed a baby-changing table in the women’s bathroom.
Larson partially attributes Mad Pita Express’s success to the somewhat unusual food the restaurant offers.
“In St. George there’s a hundred burger joints and pizza places and Mexican places and that’s really what you have,” Larson said. “When I go out to eat I want to try something different. This is that.”
Mad Pita Express is located at 2376 E Red Cliffs Drive, Suite 216 in St. George, in the same parking lot as Stadium 10. Mad Pita Express is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
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