The grand opening is Oct. 16, but if you don’t mind the fact that Zhang is still situating his new Brooklyn-style pizza joint that also serves up hot dogs and wings, swing by for a slice or a pie and let him know what you think.
Located at 2212 Park Road, Chi’s is in the location that used to house Slices, which has moved to Monroe.
Anyone who has frequented pizza spots in the Big Apple might feel reminiscent once they step into the counter-service space that will have a few spots to sit, including a counter by the window with some barstools to come, and perhaps a couple of bistro tables out front. Eventually, Zhang will create a patio for Persuasion and Chi’s Pizza customers to share.
“I feel like Dilworth is missing a great Brooklyn-style pizza,” Zhang said. “A lot of people want thin crust, cheesy, foldable, grease-dripping, great dough with melted cheese on it, so I decided to open up my pizza place in the neighborhood.”
In addition to cheese, pepperoni, veggie lovers or meat lovers’ pizza, stop by for combos including wings, fries and a drink or a hot dog, fries and a drink.
Zhang and his chef, Benjamin Gonzalez, are starting with simple ingredients. Their aim is to perfect the basics first, and then move on to more unique offerings. Gonzalez knows his pizza: over the past 16 years, he has worked at Charlotte pizza places including Fuel, Hawthorne’s and Mellow Mushroom. At Chi’s, he’ll be making his own recipes, including his own dough recipe.
So far, Zhang said feedback from customers who have wandered in has been nothing but positive. “Many people got it by the slice and ate it in front of us and gave tremendously great feedback. I’m really happy with where it’s going,” he said. “Every day, sales have been better than the last. As a business owner, that’s an amazing feeling.”
Eventually, Zhang and Gonzalez plan to expand Chi’s menu to include the best of both of their restaurants. “We’re going to work on making pizzas with Asian flavors and see where we go from there,” Gonzalez said.
A glance at the existing appetizers menu may already be starting to foreshadow that plan. Sides offered include garlic knots, mozzarella sticks, crab rangoon, steamed edamame, fried pork dumplings, fried pork spring roll and veggie egg roll.
Zhang, who has owned Persuasion for about five years, said he will eventually have a system that will allow customers to order takeout from both restaurants. “I wanted to be the first in Charlotte to offer Chinese and pizza,” he said. “I have not yet worked out the logistics — just the idea of it is so great. If half the family wants Chinese and half wants pizza, now you can get both.”