Laguna Beach, Calif.-based zpizza is cultivating new stores in its home region. The company has finalized a contract with new franchisee ZP-Brea LLC to open a new restaurant in Brea, Calif.

The unit is expected to open in the second quarter of 2011.

The partners of ZP-Brea have experience in the foodservice, manufacturing and commercial real estate industries, a combination that gave them confidence going into the deal.

"We have spent several years traveling the country, speaking to franchisors and franchisees within the fast casual marketplace," said Richard Kato, operating partner. "We knew that our backgrounds in food and real estate would leverage well within the restaurant franchise industry."

Specifically, the ZP-Brea team was looking for a company with an established market niche and healthy offerings.

"Not only does zpizza fit the menu profile, but they have outstanding systems and support staff. Zpizza was the clear choice to sign with and we look forward to owning multiple locations," Kato said.

Zpizza currently has 95 stores open and more than 400 in development across the United States, the Middle East, Mexico and Vietnam. The chain offers a variety of pizzas, including traditional, gourmet, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian, as well as sandwiches, salads and calzones.

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