zpizza has finalized a contract with franchisee Ritu Shah-Burnham to open three new restaurants in Seattle. The Southern California-based gourmet pizza chain has built a powerful presence across the U.S., earning it the prestigious title of 2008 Pizza Chain of the Year from Pizza Market Quarterly Magazine. zpizza currently has 87 open stores and continues its expansion with 400 more locations in development across the U.S., the Middle East, and Mexico.

Ritu is currently focusing on finding real estate in downtown Seattle and plans to target North Seattle and Bellevue for her next two locations. She hopes to open her first location in the summer of 2009 and to have all three up and running by 2012.

“People in Seattle are very specific about food,” says Ritu. “I’m from the Midwest, and walking into the grocery stores here made my mouth drop open. Everyone wants organic food with no chemicals — it’s just a staple here. zpizza will fit into the Seattle food scene perfectly with its organic flexible menu.”

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