If you haven’t heard, restaurateur, Hitham Hiyajneh, is broadening State College’s options when it comes to dining out.
Hitham opened The Melt Shack, a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant, earlier this semester on Oct. 9. “We’re doing really good,” says Hitham. “Sometimes keep it simple stupid really works best in food.” Located on 218 East Calder Way, The Melt Shack is situated below street level in Pita Pit’s previous home.
The Melt Shack is inspired by American cuisine but has an international influence. As Hitham noted, grilled cheese is a very American meal. Though American-inspired, the restaurant takes advantage of Halal products, kosher foods and healthy options such as turkey ham that contains 80 percent less fat than regular ham. Hitham says that because the main meal is grilled cheese, they had to “cut down the fat somewhere.”
A taco restaurant, named Yallah Taco, opened this past month in the space just above The Melt Shack. Hitham described this restaurant as authentic Mexican with an international influence. The tacos will be made with local meats, excluding pork as the menu is fully kosher.
The tacos will cost $2 and three can be purchased for $5. Hitham says that the burritos will be twice as big as those from Chipotle. “My goal is that no one will leave hungry,” says Hitham.
The third restaurant, Tazzah, will be located directly next to The Melt Shack. Tazzah will be opening as soon as possible but definitely “within the next two weeks,” says Hitham. Tazzah is a two-in-one type of restaurant. Customers can stop in for a meal and enjoy all that the salad bar has to offer or can pop in to visit the juice bar on their way to class. A visit to both the salad and juice bars is a definite possibility as the options are all so healthy.
Tazzah will also offer “Earth bowls” that are filled with fresh ingredients grown by local farmers. The juice bar will be completely authentic, with no artificial flavoring, including simply fresh ingredients. The juices will have a Middle Eastern influence, incorporating ingredients such as honey and different types of creams.
If you aren’t excited by now, just keep in mind that the salad bar will have about 30 different types of toppings and will also offer wraps as another healthy option.
For each restaurant, Hitham vows to use the most local and in-season produce as possible. Though the restaurants all have international flair, Hitham says that they are still very “locally inspired.”
Hitham describes his restaurants as places where ordering is simple even when the options are virtually unlimited. His goal is to go above and beyond places like Chipotle without over complicating the experience. Another interesting feature of the three restaurants is that customers can choose to sit anywhere they like. So if your friend wants grilled cheese but you’re on a diet, you can still have the opportunity to dine together with many options to choose from.