When Bassel Osmani was an engineer student at Arizona State University he never imagined himself owning a nationwide chain of super healthy, fresh restaurants.

But, somewhere along the way, he and two other friends realized that's where everyone at ASU was going to eat. They decided to start their own restaurant and run it for a few years and then return to the careers they were going to school for. After opening the first Pita Jungle in 1994, Osmani says they never looked back. Now they're working on opening a location in Ahwatukee Foothills, their 16th location over all.

"Ahwatukee matches, to a large extent, the Pita Jungle personality," Osmani said. "We are into healthy lifestyles and we have a lot of that going on in that neighborhood. We've been scoping out Ahwatukee for the longest time, but the reason why we didn't move in earlier is we were scared about the stability of our store in Chandler. Chandler has gotten so big and so busy we felt like it was a good time."

Osmani said Ahwatukee was selected because it's such an active community. The company has recognized the many hikers and bikers that can be seen on South Mountain on any given Saturday. That, to them, made Ahwatukee perfect.

The location is near Ray Road and 51st Street, next to RA Sushi and the Ahwatukee AMC 24 movie theater, 4921 E. Ray Road. The space was formerly a French restaurant, called La Vigne.

"We make every Pita Jungle look very different from any other, and this one is going to be really cool," Osmani said. "It's going to have a full bar and a very nice patio that overlooks South Mountain. It's going to maintain what all our Pita Jungles have, which is great service and good food for a healthy diet."

The company expects to have the location open by later this month.

While preparing to open the company has been doing on site and off site interviews for employees. For more information on when those interviews may be taking place, Osmani said to visit their Pita Jungle Facebook page.

"As always we're very grateful to all of the Phoenix communities that embrace our concept and a healthy lifestyle," Osmani said. "That's what keeps us going. We're very thankful to have such a great customer base and we're excited to service the community in Ahwatukee. We can't wait to hit those hills."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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