WICKER PARK — It was a convenience mart, then a fast Middle Eastern spot and now business owner Syed Wasif is revamping his storefront inside the iconic Flat Iron Arts Building yet again, this time into a Chipotle-style fast-food joint for Indian cuisine.
Wasif said he decided to shut down his Flat Iron Pita Grill at 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave. and came up with a new plan after listening to customers who said there aren't enough cheap options for Indian food in the neighborhood.
Plus, the number of restaurants offering shawarma and falafel have been overflowing in Wicker Park, Wasif said.
There's Shawarma Garden at 1951 W. Division St., Sultan's Market at 2057 W. North Ave., Falafel & Grill at 1317 N. Milwaukee. Ave. and an upcoming Middle Eastern concept at 2014 W. Division St., to name a few.
Wasif transformed his shop from Wicker Park Food Mart, which opened in 1996, to Flat Iron Pita Grill just this past fall after facing stiff competition from a nearby Walgreens.
He said he plans on reopening as Rasoi Indian Kitchen, a sort of "Indian Chipotle", as early as Friday or Saturday.
"A lot of people are vegetarian in the neighborhood, and they love the Indian food," said Wasif, who plans to offer plenty of meat-free items along with meat choices in about a $6-$8 range.
Wasif had already offered a number of Indian food items at the Flat Iron Pita Grill, like samosas, tandoori chicken and roti wraps.
But shawarma, falafel and other signature items on the menu will no longer be offered, Wasif said.
The new menu, which is still being developed, will include wraps and plates with a choice of rice and protein, including chicken, beef, chickpeas and lentils. Plates will come with two sides, he said.
Though his business was already a fairly quick one that took about 10 to 15 minutes for each entree, Wasif said customers don't even have that much time these days.
"They want the food fast," he said.
The few Indian restaurant choices that are nearby, like Indian and Napalese spot Cumin at 1414 N. Milwaukee Ave. and Rangoli at 2421 W. North Ave., are sit-down restaurants.
"The meal is complete and fresh and ready to go," Wasif said of his new plan.
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