Rocky Fork Enterprise

zpizza franchise to open on North Hamilton Road

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Central Ohio residents will have a third location to order and enjoy gourmet pizza, fresh salads and hand-crafted sandwiches at zpizza beginning Monday, Feb. 24, at 5079 N. Hamilton Road in Gahanna.

Cynthia Ledesma will open a zpizza franchise, offering $1 pizza slices (two-slice maximum) to dine-in customers from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 24-26, to commemorate the launch.

An in-store grand-opening celebration is scheduled for March 27.

Columbus also has zpizza locations in the Short North and Clintonville.

"The concept is organic, all-natural," Ledesma said. "It's a healthier spin to pizza to get people to the healthier side of things. It's prepared in the store, where the dough is stretched and veggies are cut. We also serve fresh salads and some sandwiches."

The North Hamilton Road location (across from Meijer and beside AAA) is mainly delivery and carryout but will serve diners to its bright and modern 1,483-square-foot dining concept. Store hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

"We have seating for 25," Ledesma said. "We are going to open with about 12 employees."

The zpizza company was founded in 1986 in Laguna Beach, Calif., and has expanded to more than 100 locations worldwide.

"The founder said he was in partnership with a French lady, and they didn't have a name for the pizza business," Ledesma said. "With her being French, she couldn't pronounce 'the' and would say zpizza. The name is because of the French accent."

She said opening a zpizza franchise is an exciting opportunity to share zpizza's healthy dining alternative with Columbus-area residents. Ledesma, who is gluten-sensitive, said the idea for her business started with her daughter's birthday party.

"She wanted pizza, and I didn't want to serve it if it wasn't healthy," Ledesma said. "I went and tried it. We had it at the party. All the parents at the party liked it. I thought, 'This could work.' "

The Westerville resident describes zpizza as very artsy.

"It's more of a craft," she said. "We have standard cheese and pepperoni that are familiar, but there will be items not found in pizza chains -- glut-free and vegan. The general manager is a passionate gardener and vegan. The passion for me is to incorporate the local product from local farmers. This is something I could be truly happy giving to people."

Ledesma said she chose to open the business in Gahanna because she works in the Gahanna area and her daughter attends school in Gahanna.

"The demographics were very high for Gahanna," she said. "I looked at the potential for people eating out. I did a lot of research. I love the area. This is something I can serve to my community and feel good about it."

At the opening, each customer who orders a large pizza will be entered into a raffle for free pizza for a year. For more information, call 614-379-4700.

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