Former Domino's worker sets up 'Leeds Pizza' chain 5,000 miles from the city

A foreign student who studied in Leeds loved the city so much he went back to China and set up a chain of pizza restaurants in the city's honour.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:45 am

Li Zhu studied in Leeds from 2002 - 2009, taking up a job at Domino's after falling in love with the food he tried in England.

He worked his way up to becoming a regional manager at the pizza chain while studying for his undergraduate and masters degrees in business at Leeds Beckett University.

Li returned to his home city of Changsha, more than 5,000 miles from Leeds, but started to miss the city and all the food he'd grown to love.

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Li Zhu, who worked at Domino's in Leeds, set up Leeds Pizza in his native China.

Li said: "I started missing the British delicacies and pizzas especially, and hoped for friends and family in my hometown to try these foods."

In 2011, he opened his first Leeds Pizza restaurant - and has since added four more.

Li added: "It was named Leeds because I love Leeds, and it's where I learnt my skills."

Li said that, even after ten years, he has kept his food authentically "British", winning him more international customers.

Li Zhu has international staff working at Leeds Pizza for extra authenticity.

He added: "My customer numbers started to grow, and the local people of Changsha are now big fans of Leeds Pizza - it has become an irreplaceable local pizza brand."

Earlier this year, Li Zhu teamed up with the owner of Tuo Pu English training school to open a branch on the school's campus.

Li said: "The international teachers at the school are regular customers and they decided to join forces with me and open the Leeds family restaurant, which is now the fifth Leeds Pizza shop in China.

"It is located in the school's Pappi Park, so that they can provide a good one-stop service to eat, play and learn.

A Leeds Pizza branch in Changsha.

"Getting help from British and Canadian international teachers has helped me keep the authenticity of English culture and foods."

Specialties include the Leeds Sirloin Steak and the Leeds Filet Steak.

Li added: "I'm so happy to bring the local cuisine and culture of Leeds to the people of my hometown and international friends.

"I want more people to know about Leeds and hope one day the locals of Leeds have a chance to come and visit Changsha - it's the Chinese fashion capital with beautiful scenery.

The grand opening of Li Zhu's latest Leeds restaurant.

"The people of Changsha are friendly and hospitable, and Leeds Pizza welcomes all of you to come and enjoy some of our pizza!"

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