IU grad finds success with start-up pita business

POSTED AT 11:32 PM ON Sep. 30, 2012 


Gyros, pita chips and feta cheese are just a few staples of Mediterranean cuisine IU graduate Shadi Khoury serves throughout Indiana.

Khoury graduated from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 2011 and now owns In a Pita, a Mediterranean food truck business.

He runs the business out of Indianapolis.

Students who went to GLOWfest this month may have seen him peddling pitas out of his electric blue 1987 Chevrolet box truck.

“My personal favorite is the falafel,” Khoury said. “But the honey and feta pita chips are pretty darn good, too. Sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, it’s a party in your mouth.”

Khoury, whose parents own a Mediterranean restaurant in Indianapolis, said deciding on a business plan was easy.

“It seemed like a dream to own my business and sell food because I love to cook,” he said. “And I was born into the cuisine.”

But running the business, Khoury said, isn’t as easy as dreaming up an idea. He said operating a food truck is risky. It’s always a gamble picking what special events to go to, because he said he never knows how many people will show up or what the weather will be like.

“A lot of people assume that having a food truck is so easy, that you just park, sell food and then you are a millionaire,” Khoury said. “That’s definitely not the case.”

He said the worst trip he made was to a Zombie 5K Run in Knightstown, Ind. He had $1,000 worth of food invested in the trip, it was an 18-hour workday and he didn’t sell as much as he hoped to. On the way back, his truck broke down.

As hard as it is, there are perks. Khoury said he likes being his own boss and having a flexible schedule.

Claire Dickinson, Khoury’s girlfriend and first employee, said watching and helping the business unfold has been one of the most exciting things she’s ever done.

“Starting In a Pita was a little bit like creating a masterpiece,” Dickinson said. “We started with a completely blank canvas, and we could create anything we wanted. I have never cared about a project more in my entire life.”

Dickinson said she and Khoury realize not many people their age can say they’ve started a lucrative business. Khoury is thankful for the success so far.

“It’s crazy to think that four months ago I was playing World of Warcraft waiting to hear back from jobs I had applied for, and now I run a successful food truck,” Khoury said. “It made me realize that you really can do what you want. It just depends how hard you are willing to work for it.”


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