By Kurt Batdorf
Snohomish County Business Journal
LAKE STEVENS — Jon and Bridgit Newmark were looking to add to their two successful franchise holdings here when opportunity knocked in the form of Extreme Pita.
Jon Newmark said they wanted a third shop of some kind within the limited geographic confines of the Lake Stevens area, but it didn’t make sense to open another Subway.
Extreme Pita’s concept of fresh, healthful food prepared as customers watch, much like in their Subway shops, piqued the Newmarks’ interest. They spent six months studying the operations of Washington’s only other Extreme Pita in Canyon Park before they signed to open their new 30-seat restaurant in Frontier Village at 621 Highway 9 NE.
Extreme Pita had a grand opening event on May 14 and 15, during which customers received half-price pitas all day. The first 25 customers in line received cards granting them free pitas for a year. Bridgit Newmark figures that’s a good investment and will generate new customers far beyond the 25 who get free pitas.
“Eating healthy is the wave of the future,” she said.
So far, the Newmarks say business has been steady. “I see all thumbs-up from customers,” Jon Newmark said.
Bridgit Newmark is surprised by the variety of customers who come through the door: lots of seniors who come after church on Sunday and lots of families with kids.
The Newmarks have lived in Lake Stevens for eight years and both have management backgrounds. Jon Newmark worked in upper management with Domino’s Pizza in the Denver area. Bridgit Newmark opened the first nine Blockbuster Video stores in the Seattle area.
Extreme Pita has 16 full-time and part-time employees. The Newmarks plan to train their Subway general manager in the operations at Extreme Pita.
The Newmarks’ restaurant represents the start of Extreme Pita’s expansion initiative, which calls for as many as 25 restaurants throughout Washington in the next five years.
“After years of tremendous success in our native Canada, we’re proud to have successfully crossed over into the United States and extremely excited about bringing our fresh and healthy pitas to Lake Stevens,” said Alex Rechichi, co-founder and president of Extreme Pita.
Featuring a “no rules” menu that customizes every rolled pita to suit each customer’s taste, Extreme Pita serves all pitas fresh or sauteed in water, not oil, as the customer watches. Sandwich options include tuna, steak and ham, and vegetarian options including falafel and hummus. Jon Newmark pointed to the segregated grill that separates meat and vegetarian items.
The Newmarks’ long-term goal is to create a management structure so they can focus on the big picture more as supervisors to keep their business ship running smoothly. That, and finding a balance between work and pleasure.
Jon Newmark said they’re not interested in expanding beyond the three stores they now have.
“We want to come across as the community’s ‘pita place,’ ” he said.
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