Openings and Closings

Pita Fresh opens near the University of Denver

When Zinger's, a mishmash of chicken wings, chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches and green chile that wasn't long for this world, shuttered a few months ago at 2075 South University, the corner strip mall space, which was also a Quizno's at one point, opened itself up to another plea for food in the 'hood that that would appease DU students.

And business partners Rabee Alsharairi and Iounes Watban believe the new quick-casual Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant that they opened earlier this month is what the students and faculty are hungering for.

"It's a great location with parking and lots of foot traffic, and it's near the campus, so we expect to get a lot of students and faculty," says Alsharairi, who hails from Jordan, while his partner, Watban, who's also the chef, is from Iraq and spent several years cooking in Lebanon.

"I've lived in Denver for the past ten years," explains Alsharairi, "and while there are a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants here, I don't find that they're very authentic, and we wanted to open up a place that was."

Nearly everything, he attests, is made in-house, including the pita bread. "We do everything -- our pita, our falafel, our hummus and our spinach and other pies -- from scratch," Alsharairo says, adding, too, that "even the chick peas for the hummus are dried and soaked overnight."

The meats are Halal and the majority of spices are shipped from Lebanon, and he's doing a Mediterranean-style broasted chicken, as well. "It's like we do it back home, marinated in curry, spices and lemon juice, dipped it breading and fried." And he swears it's nothing like KFC. "You have to try it," he insists. "It's so much better -- and so different -- from that stuff they call chicken at KFC."

And if things go well near the campus, Alsharairo hopes to expandl. "It's my vision that after a few years, we'll open up our concept all over the state, but first, we need to be successful in this location," he says.

There's no liquor license, but to compensate, Alsharairo serves fresh-squeezed fruit juices -- orange, carrot, cantaloupe, avocado and honey, banana and strawberry -- and his hours run late: through midnight until students return to school later this month and until 3 a.m. once school is back in session. For additional info, call 303-955-8711.