The friendly atmosphere and smell of freshly grilled food is enticing when walking into the Puyallup Pita Pit on South Meridian.
The Pita Pit offers Lebanese-style sandwich wraps made with fresh ingredients and various sauces.
New store owner Alex Gonzalez recently opened the restaurant after it was closed for several months. Gonzalez, 22, always knew he wanted to own a business but encountered this opportunity in an unexpected way.
Gonzalez became a regular customer because of the alternatives that the Pita Pit offers to typical fast-food fare. Gonzalez empathizes with many Americans looking to find something quick and healthy when on-the-go.
“It’s actually really hard to find good places to eat when you’re trying to kind of watch what you eat,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez began his involvement with the Pita Pit as a customer. One day, he went to get a pita, and the doors were closed for business.
Disgruntled, he called the corporate office to find out when it would reopen. He learned that there was nothing wrong with the store, but the corporate office no longer was affiliated with the prior franchisee. He began persistently calling the corporate office in the hopes of having it reopened. He laughs, thinking about how often he called to complain.
“Eventually, my name became pretty familiar,” Gonzalez said.
The corporate office was intrigued by Gonzalez’ dedication and passion, and offered him a way to reopen the doors by offering him an opportunity to attend an orientation for entrepreneurs interesting in starting their own franchise.
In high school, Gonzalez was part of a business program designed for students with an interest in entrepreneurship. After graduating in 2009, he began studying at Pierce College.
Because Gonzalez moved to the Puyallup area before finishing high school and attended Pierce, he developed a sense of community with the local area, and completed his associate’s in business. He discovered the store during his time at Pierce.
Students going into college straight from high school may not have a solid idea of what happens after their degree is completed. Important issues, like what will be useful in real-world applications or how to get started in the field, can be stressful and even dumbfounding.
Gonzalez discovered that many fundamentals explored in his business program were familiar concepts when it came to invoices, payroll, his employees, and business legalities.
Also, after having gone through the training and start-up process, Gonzalez recommends entrepreneurs start with a franchise to build the experience; he believes that involvement with a franchise is beneficial.
“There already used to be one here, so the idea and the concept of this was already exposed to the community. If you want to create your own, from your own name, logo, etcetera, it’s a lot of time and effort. If you want to do it, don’t not do it, but understand it’s a lot more of an obstacle. (With a franchise) you’re taking a proven, successful idea and product and just copying and pasting,” Gonzalez said.
His passion for his job is apparent as he excuses himself to greet one of his regular customers and get their order started. Even with the title of owner, he helps with all aspects of the store and is dedicated to exceeding customer expectations to foster relationships.
Aside from creating a place that he would want to frequent as a consumer, he likes that he can set his own standards and establish himself in the community as a local business owner.
“We’re already making a positive impact and building great relationships with local high schools and Good Samaritan Hospital,” Gonzalez said.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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