- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2004

A new gourmet pizza chain plans to deliver a slice of competition to the D.C. area. Z Pizza, based in Southern California, will move into the region this year with as many as five restaurants and plans to grow to between 35 and 40 locations here over the next five years.

The chain, which has 22 locations in California and Nevada, serves 18 pizzas ranging from the ordinary to the not-so-ordinary. The menu is modified occasionally, adding new pizzas about three times a year, said Chris Bright, president of Z Pizza International.

A list of menu items on Z Pizza’s Web site (www.zpizza.com) include the American, which is topped with pepperoni, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, red onions and marinara sauce, and more creative items such as the Thai pizza with peanut sauce, bean sprouts, spicy chicken, carrots and onions. Customers can create their own with a selection of crusts, sauces, cheeses and toppings.

The locations are 900 to 1,500 square feet. The emphasis is on takeout and delivery, which makes up 70 percent to 75 percent of a site’s business, Mr. Bright said.

Z Pizza is owned by Sid Fanarof, who founded the company in 1986, and by Mr. Bright and Dan Rowe, who are the founders of Fransmart, a franchise-development company in Alexandria.

The company plans to double in size each year over the next three years, adding franchised units in the West and in the D.C. area.

“We want to make sure we have a strong brand on the East Coast before we roll into other markets there,” Mr. Bright said.

Retail rummage

• Sports Her Way, a Towson, Md., store that sells women’s sports equipment and accessories, has signed a lease for nearly 3,900 square feet at Alexandria Commons. The store is expected to open later this month. JBG Rosenfeld Retail of Bethesda represents the shopping center in Alexandria.

• Vesta Home, a home-furnishings showroom based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will open a 7,800-square-foot location in the Hartford Office Building at 3101 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington. The store is expected to open in May. Madison Retail Group represented Akridge, the developer of the Hartford, in the lease transaction.

• Wegmans Food Markets will open its first store in Northern Virginia on Feb. 29. The 130,000-square-foot store will be at Route 28 and Waxpool Road in Sterling.

In other news …

• US Airways, based in Arlington, has signed on as the official airline for the area’s World War II celebration this summer. The partnership with “America Celebrates the Greatest Generation” will include discounts and special packages for World War II veterans and other groups flying into the District during the 100-day celebration. More than 6 million people are expected to visit the region from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

• One-half of hospitality workers plan to change jobs this year thanks to an improved business outlook, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com, an online job search firm. Salary is the biggest point of contention among workers who want to go elsewhere. Although 57 percent received a salary increase last year, half say they weren’t satisfied.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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