Father and sons team up to offer new concept for Mediterranean food

PitaSub Express is about healthy Lebanese dining, but also family, being a joint venture of the Ismail family. Pictured, left to right: Ali, Muhamad, Zein and Jafar Ismail.

PitaSub Express is about healthy Lebanese dining, but also family, being a joint venture of the Ismail family. Pictured, left to right: Ali, Muhamad, Zein and Jafar Ismail.

By Chris Galford- If Lebanese cuisine were to meet a Chipotle style dining experience, the result would probably be something like PitaSub Express. Owned and operated by the Ismail family for the past six years, it is a restaurant designed to take healthy Mediterranean dishes and give them to the customer exactly how they want it: fast.

“We’re taking an old school food style and giving it a new school look,” said Ali Ismail.

Ali, along with his brothers Muhamad and Jafar, as well as their sister, have been working with their father Zein to take this family business and make it faster, fresher and, most importantly, healthier. Zein himself is an old hand at the culinary arts, though, and PitaSub is far from his first go around — he holds the distinction (in a joint venture with his older brother, Muhamad) of having introduced the first Lebanese restaurant to the Toledo area in 1976, and now also its first Lebanese build-your-own style restaurant. In all, he has been in the business for some 37 years.

One can’t be in the business that long and not learn a few things about successful practice. PitaSub does takeout, sit-down dining and catering. The recipes on the menu may, at first glance, appear typical Lebanese fare: pitas, chicken and gyros, with plenty of hummus to go around. Yet it is the way they go about their meals which sets PitaSub apart.

“Our chicken has no hormones added to it. We help people to eat healthier, fresher food. We changed concepts about 14 months ago to make it build-your-own bowl. I don’t fry food — it’s all health food here. Organic,”said Zein.

For the younger Ismails — ages 24, 22 and 18, respectively — the business acts as a sort of supplementary education, in those hours when school isn’t dictating their time. While their own insights add the viewpoint of younger generations to the menu, their time in the restaurant also teaches them from their father’s experience.

As Jafar noted, “After 37 years, you basically perfect all your recipes. I think my dad’s chicken is probably the best, with a crazy amount of spices — very unique.”

Show your support for local businesses! Call Zein at 419-882-1796; visit 5155 Main St, Sylvania, OH; or visit the website at http://www.pitasubexpresssylvania.com/.