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Buffalo-born Issa's makes pita chips like no other in the nation using family recipe and flame baking process

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Posted at 1:34 PM, Jul 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-29 18:36:44-04

BUFFALO (WKBW)  — They are the little chip, with big flavor, that are changing the game in snacking.

Issa's Flame Baked Pita Chips is a Buffalo born company that is slowly becoming a national brand. "We are doing things that other pita chips aren't doing with flavors and textures and the process of the product," says Andrew Issa.

Andrew, and his brother James Issa, co-founded Issa's Baked Pita Chips in 2016 as a way to add a new twist to a long-time family tradition.

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Buffalo natives Andrew and James Issa are the co-founders of Issa's Flame Baked Pita Chips

"My parents immigrated from Lebanon in the late 1970s, and ultimately settled in Buffalo," explains Andrew. "In 1981 my dad decided to open up a pita bread bakery and supply local restaurants with fresh pita bread. He did that while working a full-time job for 35 years."

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Andrew and James Issa, with their father Habib, who originally started a pita bread company in Buffalo in 1981.

Andrew and James grew up in their father's pita bread factory and always knew they wanted to get into business. Just in a different way.
"We knew we wanted to take over the business, but we knew for a fact that we didn't want to do pita bread," says Andrew.

And with that the brothers pivoted from pita bread, to pita chips using a recipe that includes all-natural ingredients sourced in New York State.

"It starts with the flour. We get the flour that is grown in New York State," said James. "The wheat is grown here. It is milled here and it comes to us. We turn that into pita bread, that is what we've always known."

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Freshly baked pita bread moves through the oven at the Issa's Flame Baked Pita Chip facility in Buffalo

The pita bread is baked in a bakery on Dingens Street in Buffalo. Within three hours that bread is turned into flame baked pita chips and packaged inside the same facility.

"From A-to-Z it gets off the line as pita bread. We process it, and throw it in the oven again, and it becomes a pita chip," added James.

And it's the oven that makes a big difference. Unlike other products on the market Issa's Pita Chips are flame baked.

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Cinnamon and Sugar pita chips come out of the oven at the Issa's Flamed Baked Pita Chips production facility on Dingens Street in Buffalo.

"The flames actually cook the thin pita that are going through, and crisp them in a way that it's like you are having a potato chip type of crisp, opposed to a hard pita," says Andrew.

The result is a thin and crispy pita chip that is flying off the shelves. Issa's is now in over 400 stores across the country. You can find the pita chips locally in Wegmans, Tops and Whole Foods. The pita chips come in a variety of flavors ranging from the classic sea salt, to a spicy harrissa.

"It's a North African Middle Eastern barbecue", explains Andrew. "Compare it to Sriracha, but it is a better representation of our culture than Sriracha would be."

The goal for both Andrew and James is to continue to expand Issa's Flame Baked Pita Chips while carrying on the honesty and dedication that led the family pita bread business for years.

"We want to be a legacy company. We are not looking to scale the business and sell the business. We want to build a legacy in Buffalo and expand nationally to become a snack company and not just a pita chip company"

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