This time two years ago, Jason Taylor picked up a postal truck.
After years of cooking, “my mom was not the best cook growing up,” Taylor admits, the Pitt grad took the leap of starting his own business full time. He bought an old, decommissioned postal van, and went about converting it into a food truck.
By October 2018, Pita My Shawarma was born. The perfect handheld food, shawarma featured slow-roasted meats, chicken and beef in this case, thinly sliced and served in a warm pita with pickled turnips, veggies and a garlic sauce. In addition to shawarma, the truck serves freshly made hummus, zaatar seasoned fries and a loaded fries and shawarma combo–a perfect meal for an afternoon at a local brewery.
Less than two years after opening the truck, Taylor’s gearing-up to open a brick-and-mortar location on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.
The Road to Opening
“Even before I started my mobile concept, I knew I wanted a storefront,” explains Taylor. The truck, which was hailed Pittsburgh City Paper’s best new food truck of 2019, serves as a testing ground, and classroom for the first time business owner. From behind the wheel, he’s been able to grow the menu and develop the concept further.
When Taylor saw the central Lawrenceville location on Butler Street, he knew it’d be a perfect location for the fast-casual Pita My Shawarma experience that makes the truck so popular. With the truck and brick-and-mortar location, there’s more flexibility to try out new offerings and menu items, such as vegan options Taylor hopes to offer at both businesses soon.
Some things might change, Taylor doesn’t envision that experience changing in the store’s permanent location, except for some interior seating and a side patio where customers can dig in.
On the Road (Again)
Taylor secured and started prepping the restaurant in February, weeks before everything changed. Just when things were ready to go, the shelter in place order was enacted, pushing Pita My Shawarma’s opening plans several months.
As a new reality settled in Taylor decided to roll with the punches, literally. He threw his energy behind the food truck, popping up at local breweries during contactless pick-up hours. Regulars know that they’ll frequently find Pita My Shawarma at nearby brewery 11th Hour or Dancing Gnome on the weekends.
With less traffic headed to breweries, Pita My Shawarma also went digital, using online delivery platforms and pick-ups straight from the truck outside the permanent location.
In addition to a bustling truck schedule, Pita My Shawarma partnered with local food blog Hungry Girl, Big City for a series of pre-sold multi-course group dinners. “The biggest thing I learn is that you always need to be adapting,” says Taylor. “It’s being able to adjust to the market and your customers while still providing good service.”
Welcome to the Neighborhood
Though Pita My Shawarma moved into Lawrenceville at a difficult time, the business still received a warm welcome from the neighbors. “A lot of business owners came by to visit me as I was serving out of the truck,” says Taylor.
The Butler Street shop might not be open quite yet, but Taylor’s been opening up the side patio for customers when he sets up the truck next to his store. Stay tuned to Pita My Shawarma’s Instagram for more details about the store opening, and where to find the truck next.
Pita My Shawarma Takeout & Delivery
While the storefront isn’t quite open, you can still order food from the Pita My Shawarma truck.
Food Truck Schedule: Click here for the schedule of where to find the truck.
Delivery: You can use Doordash to have Pita My Shawarma delivered
Follow Pita My Shawarma for updates: