Pita krunch story: from war-ravaged lebanon to a supermarket near you

Pita Krunch Story: From War-Ravaged Lebanon to a Supermarket Near You

Beirut, 1970. Ray was born just in time to come of age in one of the bloodiest and most turbulent times in modern Lebanese history. He describes what life was like growing up in a city filled with constant political and military tension: “We had some rough times back then. There seemed to be conflicts every single day. We used to walk to high school while there was war going on around us. We took classes while there was fighting going on outside; you had no other choice but to do that. You came home and spent most of your time in a bunker studying by candlelight. It was the same story just about every day.”

After his father, then Lebanon’s Minister of Media, was assassinated in 1984, Ray’s mother decided that he and his brother Chawki needed to get out of the country. When we came here we had nothing but a plane ticket. We had no money or anything, so we are proud of what we accomplished since then. It’s not like we came here and had it handed to us. No, we had to work for everything we have.”

And they worked hard. While attending college part-time, the Houmani brothers put in long hours each day, six days a week. The Ohio entrepreneurial pair started a restaurant while pursuing both the food business and their engineering degrees in the early 1990’s, but eventually decided to focus their time and energy on Mediterranean Inc. alone. (Ray’s enjoyment of engineering remains undimmed; his favorite part of the business is running the machines that have always fascinated him.) Today, the company makes and distributes an assortment of foods inspired and complemented by their Lebanese roots, such as hummus, salsas, cheese dips and salads under various trademarks. They have also created 16 flavors of pita chips under the Pita Krunch brand. Aside from good marketing, Ray’s focus remains upon children; the kids who enjoy his snacks today live in sharp contrast his own childhood in decimated Lebanon.

Despite the company’s success, Ray regrets that he didn’t pursue the opportunity to take Mediterranean Inc. and Pita Krunch national a few years ago when he was given the chance. Now there are quite a few more competitors providing pita chips to wider market. But Ray is not one to wallow, and Pita Krunch is doing quite well. It enjoys over $1 million in annual revenue, and sells at the healthy rate of 30,000 boxes a month. What is next for Mediterranean Inc.? “We want to take things step-by-step, stay wise and do it the right way.”

Here is entrepreneurism bred from practical experience. When, in the near future, you hear about Mediterranian Inc.’s products on the national market, think about all that went into that healthy bag of Pita Krunch. Ray offers firm advice to anyone facing a similar situation as an immigrant coming to the United States, “You have to be tough. You have to be smart, and you have to take advantage of opportunities.”

 

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