As military spouse Melanie Fenner will tell you, spouses work their way up the ladder only to be posted, once again, before they can rise to the top at their places of employment. In 2013, Fenner took the step to break this cycle, decided to become her own boss and opened a Pita Pit restaurant.
Fenner and her husband, who has been serving in the military for a little over 25 years in both the Army and Air Force, have spent the last few decades posted across Canada, from coast to coast.
“I’ve never really had a job that I could excel at and be there for years to rise to the top. I’ve always been in fast food: Superstore Walmart, Tim Horton’s. We just decided let’s do this for ourselves for when we retire. Let’s do Pita Pit. So, here we are,” said Fenner.
The road to Pita Pit all began when Fenner and her husband were posted to Gagetown, NB a few years ago.
“My sister took me to Pita Pit. She said ‘you’ve got to try this it’s really good, and we’re thinking about opening one,’ that’s my twin sister. She took me in, and we sat and had a pita, and I thought oh my gosh, I wanna do this too,” recalled Fenner.
Fenner decided to open the store with her sister, but as fate would have it, the military couple would be posted out of Gagetown to Halifax.
In 2013, Fenner threw caution to the wind and opened her first Pita Pit store in Halifax.
“It was easy to do, with the head office. Just have some money saved and they give you the training you need. I never went to university or college. I just learned from my experience of working and what customers are like because I’m a customer myself. We just went from there. It’s just so nice to have something that is all my own. I’m my own boss, I pick my own hours, and I don’t forget where I came from,” said Fenner.
Fenner opened up a second Pita Pit in New Minus, Nova Scotia in the fall of 2015 and plans to open a third next year after her husband’s retirement.
Through the support of her staff, Fenner has found it easy to manage both stores, only one hour away from her. She keeps her phone lines always open for her staff to keep in touch.
“It’s not difficult at all. I’ve trained my managers to do exactly what I do. That’s just the level I expect. I check in every day… They’re very good at what they do. My staff is just amazing. We just train our staff to care as if it’s their own and they just take it away, and they go. That’s why I can open multiple stores,” admitted Fenner.
Fenner adamantly recommends other military couples to take a chance and own their own Pita Pit Franchise.
“It is a great opportunity and really a lot of military families, husbands and wives, they’re looking for something after because you can’t just retire and be okay. It’s a perfect age when you’re in your 40s and 50s. It’s a great age to start your franchise,” acknowledged Fenner.
Despite the decades-long journey it took for Fenner to find something that was her’s, she knows she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I wouldn't change either [military or Pita Pit] one of them for the world. I know my husband is very proud of what he does. I’ve supported him for the last 25 years and supported him every inch of the way, now he's supporting me with Pita Pit. I can’t be more happy and proud of being part of the Pita Pit family. I don't know what other franchise stores are like, but I know I feel right at home [here],” said Fenner.