In the expanding world of fast-casual restaurants, it can be a jungle out there.
Hoping to mark out some territory of their own are the franchisee owners of Pita Jungle, a new, family-friendly Mediterranean eatery in Newport Beach.
"It's healthy food and exceedingly fresh," said Eric Gruber, one of three partners who have opened the Pita Jungle location in a space formerly occupied by Blockbuster.
"We just think that there is a philosophy of people here of wanting to eat well," Gruber continued. "We think that we're right on the cutting edge of that philosophy."
The restaurant, at 1200 Bison Ave., has 4,000 square feet of indoor dining space and a 7,000-square-foot patio. It opened without fanfare Jan. 7.
However, despite the lack of prior advertising, customers took immediate notice, said co-owner Cary Goronkin.
"It's been kind of crazy," Goronkin said. "The doors opened and people just started piling in."
The eatery offers myriad salads, pita sandwiches, burgers and wood-fired pizzas, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Most items fall between $5 and $10, according to the menu at pitajungle.com.
The food is made on the premises daily, with items such as hummus and baba ghanoush made twice daily, Goronkin said.
In addition, the Newport Beach location will also serve alcoholic beverages and feature a children's menu, he said.
The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Pita Jungle chain, founded in 1994, has about 15 locations in Arizona and California. The Newport location is one of two currently open in California, though a third is planned to open in San Diego, according to the company website.