Carrie Rengers

Derby Pita Pit to open July 5; franchisees eye west side next

Customer demand is what’s leading Pita Pit franchisees Tony and Debbie Palomino to open a restaurant in Derby next month, and it’s the same thing that already has them thinking about the west side, too.

“We also have lots of comments wanting us to come to the west side,” Debbie Palomino says.

The Palominos took over the Pita Pit franchise – the first restaurant they’ve owned – at 3242 N. Rock Road in January 2014.

“It’s been very good,” Debbie Palomino says.

Tony Palomino has been working in restaurants ever since he immigrated from Ecuador at age 14 after his father found work here.

“This is the culture in other countries,” Debbie Palomino says. “It’s living the American dream.”

It’s a dream that’s taking some building, though.

“We have found that Pita Pit is not necessarily a brand that is well known in the city,” Debbie Palomino says.

There hasn’t been a lot of money for advertising so far.

“As we grow, were seeing more advertising dollars available,” Palomino says. “That’s really been exciting.”

She expects more, “especially with the addition of a second store and the revenue that will bring.”

The Palominos are targeting a July 5 opening for the Pita Pit that will be in Derby Marketplace.

It’s coming at a time that a lot of new restaurants are opening in Derby.

“I am totally amazed at the growth,” Palomino says. “We’re hoping to offer a healthy alternative to a typical fast food burger.”

Palomino says Pita Pit offers a lot of fresh ingredients that can be served in a pita or on a salad.

She says a west-side Pita Pit could happen next year “if all was really perfect.”

“The hot spot is … 21st to 29th on up to Maize,” Palomino says. “That would probably be where we’re looking.”

Palomino also is a legal secretary at Hinkle Law Firm. She says her husband is “the restaurant guy.”

The two met in 1972 when they both worked for a fast food restaurant in Overland Park.

“The owner had a rule – no dating,” Palomino says of employees.

The two did date, though, and went on to get married.

“It was sort of funny,” Palomino says. “There was four marriages that came out of that store.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, she says she and her husband don’t have a no-dating policy for Pita Pit. In fact, Palomino says a couple of employees are dating.

“And they’ll probably get married one of these days. They’re pretty tight.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.