Zalat Pizza, the Dallas-based pizza chain featured in PMQ’s March 2022 issue, will open its first location in Austin, Texas, next month, the company has announced.

The Austin store, coming in late March, will mark the 29th unit for the Texas brand founded by Khahn Nguyen, who arrived in the U.S. in 1975 as a refugee at the end of the Vietnam war. He founded Zalat in 2015. As part of its business model and expansion plan, Zalat offers its employees a range of benefits, including health insurance and a 401(k) as well as stock options.

The new Zalat store will be located in the heart of West Campus at 2222 Rio Grande Street. A second Austin location, located in North Austin at 10515 MoPac Expressway, will open in late spring, the company said, with additional locations to be announced.

Nguyen graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1994. “Like all UT graduates, I loved my years in school here and have been eagerly looking forward to Zalat’s expansion to Austin,” he said. “We receive constant requests to open Zalat locations in Austin from UT students and Austinites who moved from Dallas or Houston and need their Zalat Pizza fix. We can’t wait to bring them a taste of home.”

Related: Zalat Pizza opens restaurant in a Kroger store in Houston

Zalat Pizza, he added, is “known for our unique pizza designs, staying open until 4 a.m. on weekends, and sharing the wealth with our frontline workforce with employee stock options, all traits that we hope will be in sync with how Austin rolls.”

As Nguyen explains, “We need our Zealots [the company’s name for its employees] to be completely committed to the product because every pizza is handmade. In return, we’re completely committed to their future with the company and hope to make our frontline workers wealthy through stock option ownership. We want all our Zealots to have a piece of the pie.”

a man in an orange Zalat-branded t-shirt holds up a Zalat-branded pizza box seen in semi-close-up

Zalat Pizza

As a UT alumnus, Nguyen has a deep love for Austin and spent multiple years living in the city. “Our brand could be described as superior quality with a casual vibe,” Nguyen continued. “We know how casual Austin is, but the local standard of excellent food is still a high benchmark. We encompass these values by serving awesome food without pretense.”

Zalat Pizza prides itself on offering handmade, New York-style pizza quality at high volume. Its model forgoes the convenience of conveyor belt ovens that most pizza chains use and trains the employees to handmake and cook pizzas in traditional deck ovens. The result is more labor-intensive but yields what the company describes as “a perfect balance of crispy and chewy pizza crust.”

Zalat is known for its irreverent take on traditional pizza flavors, such as its Nashville Hot Chicken & Pickles, Pho Shizzle, and Elote pizzas, while also offering staples like the Pepperoni Masterclass and Zealot Supreme.

The first Zalat opened on Fitzhugh Avenue in 2015 and quickly became a favorite late-night pizzeria in Dallas. The concept was embraced by both customers and critics and quickly grew to 28 locations across Dallas and Houston. The corporate-owned chain was named one of the Top 100 Restaurants by the Dallas Observer and one of QSR Magazine’s Top 40/40 Concepts. In 2021, it was chosen for Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concepts Award in 2021, presented to growth-stage restaurant brands that are predicted to “become household names.”

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