Commercial Catering Enhances Popular
    Salem's Market & Grill

    Salem’s Market and Grill’s colorful exterior.

    A landmark restaurant and market since 1983, Salem’s Market and Grill is expanding its catering range to offer commercial services for businesses and events. That’s wonderful news for fans of Salem’s delicious Middle Eastern fare who would like their company to serve up more menu favorites at their workplace.

    Salem’s has long delivered the hallmarks of the Strip’s long-running businesses: quality, versatility, and customer service. The 2923 Penn Avenue location serves up tradition and diversity through its menu, community service, and sparkling Strip location.

    Owner and General Manager Abdullah Salem recognizes that the best way to respond to the customer expectations of his company is through steady growth. “We also believe it is important that our work is meaningful to all who contribute to it,” he says of customers and staff. “We therefore remain faithful to our mission, our core values, and the ethical principles that have guided us since 1983.”

    Now the Penn Avenue restaurant and market has added a second kitchen dedicated to business catering orders. Salem’s two kitchens focus simultaneously on restaurant service and a rapidly growing demand for business catering.

    As of January 2020, Salem says, “our party hall has been outfitted to include our commercial kitchen.” Already preparing for up to several thousand on weekdays, larger orders for 5,000 to 6,000 are typical for Saturdays. One goal is to eventually connect the adjacent banquet hall to the restaurant location to potentially double the total facility space. “Our expansion will enhance the experience,” Salem explains. The two kitchens are focusing simultaneously on restaurant and catering orders.

    Salem-food

    Importantly, Salem’s blossoming business answers the growing demand for fresh and healthy options. “The tech world provides food for their employees,” notes Salem, and his restaurant customers include lunch regulars from the Strip’s newest tech companies. Now the buzz is enticing more businesses to “order in” from Salem’s diverse and popular menus that feature vegan, international, and Halal items.

    In addition, “higher education” is enjoying Salem’s menu. At the University of Pittsburgh, Salem’s fare accommodates hungry students and staff around the clock. Popular menu items are featured at the Market to Go dining center in addition to a 24-hour food cart. One student’s trips to the Strip began a relationship with Salem’s that led to a weekly catering order to feed up to 350.

    Long-term contracts benefit from corporate discounts. It’s about “business-to-business,” Salem says. “The beauty of what’s been happening with us is that most of it has been organic. Employees are requesting it. Dining managers are noticing workers are going out to Salem’s.”

    As an alternative to typical carb-and-sugar-laden office “treats,” Salem suggests his mazza platter—an array of hummus, baba ganoush, and veggie favorites in addition to pita bread. The $45 order of up to six appetizers is ample for 20 to 25 people.

    Already established as Pittsburgh’s destination for Halal foods and Middle Eastern fare, Salem’s restaurant is a popular stop in the Strip for dining and shopping. The grill menu provides a glimpse of what catering clients enjoy while the market has become the destination for international products and cooking ingredients. From popular spinach pies, classic kabobs, and gyros wrapped in fresh Naan bread to desserts like the irresistible walnut or pistachio Baklawa, menu items offer something for everyone.

    Salem considers his business a place that brings people together. “One of my great enjoyments is watching people meet each other in line—running into someone new or people who generally who might have otherwise never met each other,” Salem shares. “The ease of the atmosphere here helps us to encourage inclusivity. Our staff meets weekly for discussion and training about inclusivity and customer service.”

    Abdullah Salem

    Abdullah Salem

    If Facebook customer reviews on Salem’s (and its staff of about 25) are any indication—remember that most people don’t hesitate to share both negative and positive opinions on social media—Salem’s is a long-running hit, with comments including adjectives like “phenomenal,” “incredible,” “family friendly,” and even “inexpensive.”

    Word of mouth is indeed powerful advertising for this classic Pittsburgh business. Holiday orders for the Muslim holidays are efficiently managed along with the steady customer flow year-round. Overall, “fresh” is a key word, as customers of diverse backgrounds agree patronizing Salem’s is like buying meat from your trusted local butcher.

    Salem’s Halal meat (beef, chicken, lamb, and goat) has long been recognized as a top-quality choice for any shoppers seeking fresh products at a local, family business. Following Halal guidelines for butchering are essential for those who observe the Islamic faith. However, meat is locally sourced and processed by Salem’s, from carcass to table—a universal tradition.

    “We aim for everyone to feel comfortable and consider us their home,” he says. “It’s very important for us to treat everyone with respect. We want people to enjoy it here.”

    Salem, whose father Massaud Salem founded the business, considers every new or longtime customer a building block in his business success. “Everyone who joins us here is a brick in the building.” Now the people who have created the joyful business behind Salem’s colorfully diverse brick façade can celebrate more new friends and space in which to meet them.

    For restaurant hours and reservations, catering details, and more on the Salem family story visit salemsmarketgrill.com and Facebook, or call 412-235-7828.

    Yvonne Hudson, a Pittsburgh writer and editor, grew up in Indiana, PA, and is an alumna of Point Park University and the University of Pittsburgh. When she’s not writing about regional nonprofits and businesses, she appears in her solo show Mrs Shakespeare. Her website is newplace.us.
    Photography by Greger Erickson