Syracuse Chef’s “Pita Dream” Comes True Syracuse Chef's "Pita Dream" Comes True

Chef Nas Saada's new restaurant turned his family's bad luck around.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Family is everything to chef Nas Saada, the co-owner of the Syracuse mediterranean restaurant Pita Dream. His world revolves around his wife and five kids, so much so that he flipped that world upside-down to make them happy.

After five years of running Pita Paradise, an award-winning food truck in Bakersfield, California, Saada was used to taking his kitchen on the road. That all changed last year, when the California wildfires started to threaten his kids’ health.

“The kids got really sick with asthma, and the air quality was really bad for them.  You know, they ended up in the hospital almost every other day,” he said.

In March 2019, Saada sold his business to his cousin, chef Mo Saphieth, and moved to Florida to start fresh. When the COVID-19 pandemic took root in the state, it was time for another change of scenery. That’s where his brother, Fahed Saada, came in.

“He told me, ‘Hey, why not do what you do there, and here, there is nothing like this in here,’” Saada said.

Saada liked the idea of bringing something new to the Syracuse food scene, but he kept in mind what was really important to him.

“I moved here for family, so. I need more family,” Saada said.

Saada has certainly found more family since opening Pita Dream with his brother two months ago.  Manager Ayat Awad has been working at the restaurant since its grand opening in August. She said she views Saada as more than just a boss.

“He’s like a father to me. I can’t say anything else than that, really. I love him so much,” Awad said.

A family man at his core, Saada said a booming business means a happy family.

“I get up every day at six o’clock in the morning just to make it happen here, so that this succeeds for me and the family,” he said.  “Family comes first, man. It doesn’t matter.”

It has been a difficult year for Saada and his family, but he said he has never felt more blessed to come to the end of it with a successful restaurant and a happy family.

For Saada, life in Syracuse has been a Pita Dream come true.

Reporter (Owen Sienko): Attention Syracuse foodies — there’s a new bite to eat on Walton Street. Its name is Pita Dream, and it offers mediterranean cuisine with street food flair. The longtime owner of an award-winning food truck, Chef Nas Saada is used to taking his kitchen on the road, but that all changed when he moved to Syracuse two months ago.

Chef Nas Saada: My brother, he’s, uh, Doctor Fahed Saada. He’s partnered with me here and he said, ‘Hey why not do what you do there, and here, there’s nothing like this in here.’ So, I moved here for family. So, I need more family.

Reporter: It was family that brought Chef Nas to Syracuse, but it was also what drove him from his home in Bakersfield, California.

Chef Nas: A couple of the kids got really, with all this fire they got really sick with, uh, asthma, and the air quality was really bad for them, you know? They had to go to the hospital almost every other day, and, and we couldn’t just stay there. So, I pushed it for six months, but it just got worse and worse. So, I’m like, you know what? Family comes first.

Reporter: Family always comes first, whether that be his wife and five kids or his second family at work.

Chef Nas: They are my second family, actually. Yes, they already ate at my house and I ate at theirs.

Ayat Awad: He’s not my boss. He’s like a second father. He’s a second father to me. He is, like, my problem solver. What, at, at, like, eleven o’clock, I’ll call him. Eleven p.m., I call him if I have anything.

Reporter: With a booming business and a happy family, Chef Nas says he’s never felt so blessed.

Chef Nas: I feel like I hit the jackpot, you know? So, yes, I thank god for it every day, every day, that we’re still here, the kids here, and everybody’s happy. So, it’s good.

Reporter: From Pita Dream in Syracuse, New York, Owen Sienko, NCC News.

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