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Flat Iron Pita Grill Coming to Milwaukee, North Avenue in Fall

By Alisa Hauser | July 26, 2013 9:28am
 After 16 years in the neighborhood, Wicker Park Food Mart at 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park will become Flat Iron Pita Grill, a restaurant as well as a small convenience store.
Flat Iron Pita Grill Coming to Wicker Park
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WICKER PARK — Craving a chicken shawarma sandwich at 3 a.m.?

A longtime convenience store will be there to help this fall, when Flat Iron Pita Grill opens in the back of Wicker Park Food Mart, 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Located in the iconic Flat Iron building on the southeast corner of Milwaukee and North avenues, Flat Iron Pita Grill plans to stay open until the bars close and offer "late-hour food at a reasonable price," said owner Syed Wasif, 52.

Though the menu is still being finalized, some of the eatery's offerings will include Middle Eastern shawarma wraps, pita sandwiches, hot dogs, gyros, chicken wings, salads, soups, ice cream and organic juices.

"I want to cater to everyone, if they are a vegetarian or meat eater. We will add some Indian food like samosas and roti, a 100 percent wheat Indian bread," Wasif said.

One thing diners won't find at the new eatery is booze, or the option to carry it into the restaurant.

"No drinking, no BYOB, there's too many bars in Wicker Park already. I don't want to promote open liquor," Wasif said.

Wasif said the Wicker Park Food Mart is expected to close within the next few weeks as it undergoes a remodeling that will include a name change to Flat Iron Pita Grill.

Though the name is changing, the convenient mart, which opened in 1996, still will be in the front of the building and offer a small selection of groceries, toiletries and cigarettes, while the grill, which will have seating for 12, will be in the back of the storefront.

Wasif said he "hopes to open by middle of September."

Currently, the food mart is open from 11 a.m to 5 a.m. daily.

The new venture also means more jobs.

Wasif said he plans to hire at least two new workers and rehire a cashier he laid off in December after competition from Walgreens slowed traffic to his business. The drugstore chain opened a store just a half-block north in November.

"I've been here 16 years, and with a Walgreens coming I needed a new idea and concept so I can survive in the neighborhood," Wasif said.

In December, Wasif said his mini-mart profits were down by 30 percent.

The historic landmark Flat Iron building also houses a bank, smoke shop, restaurant, several arts studios, a pizzeria and two bars.