Tikka Grill’s open kitchen concept adds spice to Mediterranean meal experience

Restaurant in West Chester Twp. prepares food in front of guests, touts freshness as key to flavors.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Tikka Grill specializes in fresh, homemade high-quality Mediterranean food and customers are loving every bite.

“We created Tikka Grill to share our love the Mediterranean’s delicious flavors, wholesome ingredients, and bright spices. We take pride in our traditional cooking techniques and highest quality ingredients to make delicious food,” said Zane Hamid, founder and CEO of Tikka Grill.

He said the restaurant’s motto is to “Keep everything simple, keep everything fresh, nothing complicated.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

When it comes to the restaurant’s success, Hamid said a lot of it comes back to keeping things simple and exceeding customers’ expectations.

“Serve them the food, be honest with them, give them good food, and outstanding customer service. It goes back to how you grew up. If you treat someone good, they will treat you the same exact way,” Hamid said.

With two locations, Tikka Grill specializes in gyros and Greek/Mediterranean food.

“Here, in West Chester, we opened in January of 2014. My first day, I was the single employee, doing it all from scratch. Little by little, we started getting known by the neighborhood here, and look at us now. We are established in West Chester, and we’re doing very well,” Hamid said.

The eatery also has a second location, which opened at Jungle Jim’s Eastgate in 2018.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“It’s doing very well. We’re next to the beer and wine. So, after five years now, we just renewed our lease with Jungle Jim’s. We brought that Jungle fun, beer and wine, shopping experience mixed with sitting down and having a gyro. So, it works well for both of us,” said Hamid.

In 2017, Zane’s brother, Hussain Hamid started managing the West Chester location, and Zane continues to split his time between both locations.

“I grew up in Jordan, in the Middle East, and our food is very similar, you know, Greek, which is the gyros, shawarma, kebabs, the hummus, and all the good stuff,” Hamid said. “Matter of fact, I never thought I was going to be doing restaurants, it was just an opportunity. I was in banking before. I worked for Chase Bank for a little bit. I’m a graduate of Wright State University.”

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Marketing, Zane started doing his homework, working the financials and putting a plan together. He also has a graphic design background, designing logos and menus. He also earned a degree in visual communication from Sinclair Community College.

“I came up with Tikka, which means any meat, like a grill, more like a barbecue. We use that in an Arabic/Iraqi accent. We came out with Tikka Grill, and I designed the logo, designed the menu, and kept it really simple,” Hamid said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

He also studied the competition to find out what was working well and what people liked. He wanted to make the experience simple for the customer.

At Tikka Grill, there is an open kitchen concept, and the food is prepared in front of guests. He said that was important because he wanted to build trust with customers.

“If there’s something you don’t like, it can be changed, there’s no wall between us. Plus, people enjoy the smells,” he said.

Hamid grew up around gyros and shawarma, so he wanted to offer an American twist on those types of foods, going beyond the typical burgers or hot dogs.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“We wanted to give more options, and that’s why we added the Hot Subs to the menu, so we have a great Philly Steak and a Chipotle Chicken sandwich. I opened the door for customers who love Mediterranean food, but let’s say his kid or his wife wants something different, so they have that opportunity here. They can have something they both enjoy from one simple menu,” Hamid said.

Hamid loves cooking and he learned authentic recipes, growing up with three sisters and his Mom.

“Even when I was in college, I was on the phone with my Mom, asking what do I put on this, and what do I put on that? I just love it. When I started cooking for the restaurant, I started nailing the recipes, and tweaking the menu a little bit, honing in on what’s best for the customer. I listened, and I improved. Now, some recipes are in my head. It’s written down, but I will make Tzatziki in five minutes, because I know the recipe,” Hamid said.

One popular Mediterranean favorite is the Lamb Gyro, which is made with fresh ingredients served on a warm pita with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and homemade Tzatziki. The Lamb Gyro is often paired with Greek Fries, which customers also rave about.

“We say everything with Feta is better,” Hamid said. “That’s my saying. We put Feta, olives, and homemade Greek dressing on the fries, and people enjoy it. But definitely our Lamb Gyro with our signature Tzatziki sauce. It’s a killer. I’m proud of it for me and the customers. It brings me so much happiness to see a customer happy, enjoying the food.”

How to go

What: Tikka Grill

Where: 8231 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester Twp. and inside Jungle Jim’s at 4450 Eastgate South Drive, Eastgate

Hours (West Chester): 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

More: thetikkagrill.com (accepts online orders)

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