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.