Bitars in South Philly has anchored the corners of 10th and Federal with Lebanese fare since 1974
When Amin Bitar’s dad opened his Pita bakers decades ago, it was one of the first of its kind on the East Coast.
Amin Bitar and his family immigrated to South Philadelphia from Northern Lebanon in 1972.
Upon arrival, Bitar’s parents became restless and wanted to serve local residents a variety of Lebanese Mediterranean foods that are healthy and wholesome.
The idea was simple: open a Pita bread bakery.
“My parents started a small pita bread bakery, there was nothing of this sort on the East coast,” said Bitar.
Years later, his parents retired and Bitar and his brother took over the family business, and developed a new model that brought a new menu design and a multitude of ethnic foods.
The business grew with the expansion of Mediterranean tastes in the U.S.
“Now that more people are interested in cooking Mediterranean food, now everybody has to have za'atar in their pantry or pomegranates,” he said.
The small business also provides catering services that are going strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been hard, but I am not sitting waiting for a hand-out,” said Bitar. “I have to do what I have to do to keep my people employed.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted small businesses, Bitar’s storefront is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“So many customers remember my parents and say, ‘I remember your father, he used to offer me coffee all of the time,’ so we’ve been sticking around for a long time,” he said.
In the years, Bitar has seen new faces enter his restaurant, but he still has his loyal customers coming back for Lebanese sandwiches with an American spin.
“We’re traditional in the purity of the product, but our tastebuds are in sync with the American palette,” he said.
You are not going to find a Lebanese sandwich with mayonnaise back in Lebanon, but Bitar has you covered and takes pride in making sure that all of his dishes are created authentically.
On top of adding sandwiches and platters to his menu, he will now also serve a breakfast menu on Saturdays and Sundays in the coming weeks.
“We want customers to say, ‘this is uniquely Bitars,” he said.
One breakfast dish that Bitar will be serving out is a dish with toasted pita chips, seasoned chickpeas, drizzled with garlic yogurt, finished with more crunchy pita chips, sauteed pine nuts, and flavorful almonds.
“This is full of protein, so instead of eating something sweet in the morning, you can have something savory,” he said.
Bitar and his employees are constantly delivering unique staples to the table in hopes of impressing his customers.
“I know my customers don’t necessarily live around me, so I really want to make it worthwhile for my customers who are traveling here,” he said.
In addition to Bitar’s new breakfast menu, he also offers many different dishes that will make your stomach growl.
Bitar’s is serving a grilled Kefta platter, a dish made of seasoned ground beef, served with Tzatziki sauce, sautéed veggies over a bed of yellow rice and warm pita.
Or, if you have a sweet tooth, they sell a large assortment of authentic baklava that is generously drizzled with honey.
Pay a visit to Bitar’s and pick up some grub for you and the family.