Cloud kitchens are working for Dallas-based chain Zalat Pizza, which will soon open its second one since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Khanh Nguyen’s cult classic pizza concept is growing to its eighth unit with the addition of a cloud kitchen in Addison, Texas, which opens on Thursday, July 16. Like Zalat’s first cloud kitchen, the location will focus exclusively on delivery via third-party apps or takeout through the company’s website.
“We opened our first cloud kitchen at the start of the pandemic and have seen firsthand how relevant this model is in today’s world,” says Nguyen, CEO and founder of Zalat Pizza. “Removing the dine-in element of the restaurant experience allows us to focus 100% of our energy on producing high-quality pizzas quickly and efficiently. At max peak-times a handmade pizza leaves the restaurant every 20 seconds.”
Nguyen said his company has been implementing pandemic-related health and safety precautions for staff and third-party delivery drivers alike.
Meanwhile, demand for delivered pizza is likely to stay strong—or get stronger—in Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott last Friday ordered restaurants to scale back to 50 percent capacity due to a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases around the state. They were previously operating at 75 percent capacity.
As many restaurant workers worry about their jobs in a pandemic-wrecked economy, taking care of his Zalat family remains a passion for Nguyen. “Our staff—or our ‘zealots,’ as we like to call them—are of the utmost importance to us,” he said. “We recently made stock options available for all zealots in the company, from dishwashers and cashiers to our store managers. We feel everyone deserves a piece of the pie and want them to share in our success as we grow.”
The first Zalat opened on Fitzhugh Avenue in 2015, and the brand currently has seven locations in the DFW area. The company offers pies like The Zealot (beef pepperoni, sausage, salami, black olives, red onions, mushrooms, red bell pepper and chives); the Pho Shizzle (chicken, red bell peppers, caramelized onions, cilantro, basil, hoisin and a sriracha swirl); the Elote (corn, lemon pepper seasoning, Parmesan, cilantro, a Valentina swirl and Sirancha, a combination of Sriracha and ranch dressing); and the Loaded Notato (Sirancha, a mozzarella and cheddar blend, bacon, jalapenos, chives and blue cheese ranch dressing).