Pita King Masters the American Dream
Holiday FlavorsDining

Pita King Masters the American Dream

Entrepreneur Eli Kikov operates in Chamblee with full-scale wholesale operations. On Friday mornings, Eli’s Pita is open with retails baked goods and other street food.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Eli Kikov (left) is a baker and chef at Eli’s Pita, located in Chamblee. Son, Aviam, runs the day-to-day operations.
Eli Kikov (left) is a baker and chef at Eli’s Pita, located in Chamblee. Son, Aviam, runs the day-to-day operations.

When Eli Kikov first came to Atlanta, he knew no English and got a job cleaning offices. Now, as an enthusiastic entrepreneur presiding over every detail down to the classical music stream, he runs Eli’s Pita, a thriving 8,000 square-foot facility off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, with rows of equipment, spinning mixers, ovens, and the fabulous “front of the store” retail shop, which is only open on Friday.

Visiting on a Friday is an indescribable culinary appeal to the senses with the most colorful dishes west of the Dead Sea. Part of the fun, reminiscent of deli king Harry Baron decades ago, Kikov greets customers, laying out salads, spreads, and fresh baked treats by the minute.

He exclaimed, “You must try the ‘ful medames,’ which was Saddam Hussein’s favorite dish, with fava beans.”

Eli’s retail Friday spread has amazing choices.

Say what?

Under one roof is Eli’s Pita/Best Bread Baking Company, the wholesale bakery, all warehoused in Chamblee, managed by son, Aviam, and daughter-in-law, Carolina. The business employs around 17 people. Eli’s enthusiasm inspires them to learn his standardized recipes in addition to what’s new each week. Every Friday morning, Kikov comes in at 4 a.m. to prepare and open the front end to the public.

Kikov said, “I’m, ready to pay full homage to the culinary landscape of my Mediterranean home with the best pita and falafel anywhere.” The pre-made retail items go “like hotcakes” on Friday.

This party rye sells for $25 and is the star of home entertaining.

Kikov was born and raised in south Tel Aviv (he jokes, “like the South Bronx”).

“My family didn’t have much, but we had a good work ethic. We moved around and kept improving. Today, I owe my motivation back to those days,” he said.

Eli served in the Israeli Defense Forces Armored Corps in 1978, and took time off to travel. He came to Atlanta to visit his sister where his journey began and landed in the baking business. Family, back home in Israel, would laugh, “Eli is making pita in Atlanta, of all things.” That was 1980 and, until this day, he is still baking the best “pockets” in town along with all the items that are available in the Friday’s market.

New to Atlanta, he connected with the Israeli community and met the founders of Masada Bakery, who brought Eli onboard and gave him’ free hand’ to explore baking bread from scratch.

Carolina Kikov runs the marketing department and poses behind the retail shawarma/ falafel bar. Platters are also available.

Through trial and error, Eli crafted his skills, and then the Perpente’s bread company was founded in 1993 specializing in Eli’s Focaccia Breads and Bountiful Grains. Now, his pita and rolls fly off supermarket grocery shelves as well as being served by restaurants, hotels, and caterers.

When asked to explain his cooking philosophy, he said, “The secret for a good falafel is fresh ingredients and a good pocket pita that’s as soft as clouds. But the secret to success is having a smart wife, like mine, who’s the bookkeeper.”

The menu features bestselling items: pita, falafel, hummus, fun-shaped challahs, bagels, bourekas, assorted artisan breads, chicken shawarma, shakshuka, baba ghanoush, tahina, mini babka, knafeh, roasted cauliflower, baklava (less sugar, more butter), beet salad, vegan rolled date cookies, and home-style cooked foods, all to go.

Eli’s mixers produce the baked goods’ batter.

A fun display is the festive party rye bread ($25) where, when at home, the center is carved out and replaced with the home chef’s own dip. The fragrance of it all is overwhelmingly delicious…focaccia with pesto and goat cheese, rugelach, apricot Danish, knafeh, an Arab cheese based dessert with shredded dough ($7).

Traveling back home, he said, “Visiting Israel, I love the street food experience that serves the masses on local corners that define our traditional cultures. My favorite chef is Sara Moulton, an American chef and cooking show host.”

Loyal customer Jeff Klein drives every week from Alpharetta and exclaimed, “I love the flatbread pizza, the rugelach is ‘to die for’, the falafel is better than in Israel. It’s amazing he does all this by word of mouth. The Kikovs are wonderful people!”

Hours of operation for the public are only Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eli has requests from customers to expand…so expect delivery from services like Door Dash soon.

Eli’s Pita at Best Bread is located at 2080 Peachtree Industrial Ct., Chamblee. 404-494-6430.

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