By Chad Pasinger, Contributing Writer — I walk in, and it’s completely different; almost. Aside from the smell of Mediterranean cuisine, familiar photos and art of Jerusalem on the wall, the place has changed.
UPD is not the University Police department. It stands for University Pizza and Deli.
And it’s been 3 years since UPD has been on Vine Street.
It used to be a staple for those living in Boling and Johnson-Obear Apartments on north campus.
Most students who were around at the time have since graduated from UTC.
Owner and operator Akram Musa put the restaurant on hiatus when an offer was made on his building to make the Edge apartment complex on Vine and Houston streets. But Musa had one stipulation.
There had to be a place for UPD in the building.
It used to be a rustic little hole in the wall on Vine Street. It had low lighting and creaky stairs in the back and all kinds of character, but it felt very homey, and the food was good.
Now it’s much more modern. The walls are white. The space is smaller, and the kitchen is at least half its former size; there’s even a TV tuned to ESPN on the wall.
A painting of the dome of the rock is on the wall near the pick up window.
Though it’s resurrection is in a different form, the food has improved greatly from what I can remember.
“Definitely, it’s better. It’s at least two, three stages healthier than what I had before,” said Musa.
Musa says they have two new chefs. One is from Kuwait and the other from Lebanon with 40 plus years of experience between the two of them.
UPD offers an eclectic menu of Mediterranean and American foods. From classic cheese burgers, lamb and beef shawarma (like a gyro but better), pizza, baklava and falafels (like hush puppies, but better, healthier, and more Mediterranean) are just a few of the things UPD has on the menu.
There are no UTC discounts, but the prices are reasonable for what you are getting.
“I’m here for another 21 years,” said Musa.