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Healthy bite: Naked pizza anyone?

Say cheese to popular US pizza brand that opens its first overseas branch in Dubai, albeit with a new name

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The flagship store of the pizza brand will open its doors at Dubai Marina

 Dubai : A pizza company that is becoming very popular in the United States with its healthy take on the popular fast food will open its first store outside of America in Dubai.

Known to Americans as Naked Pizza, the company has decided to change its name to N_K_D Pizza in the UAE because of "cultural sensitivities."

The company has built up a growing following with its gluten- and additive-free brand of pizzas and has decide to make Dubai the first location for an international franchise and have its global corporate headquarters in the emirate.

Flagship store

The flagship store will be at the Marina located behind the Radisson Hotel with the corporate offices next door in the same building.

It will be one of four takeaway shops with others at Studio City, Garden City and Tecom opening by April, 2011. The stores are expected to create around 160 new jobs.

Speaking to XPRESS while on a visit to the emirate, Jeff Leach, co-founder of the New Orleans-based company that was set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina four years ago, said there had been a number of requests for franchises from Dubai and around the world.

"People always ask the story behind our name and it's simple. Naked means natural, so we don't have any artificial additives or preservatives in our pizzas. Our pizzas are lifestyle pizzas for people who want to be healthy as opposed to dieting," he said.

"The name change will automatically get people talking and asking what the blank spaces mean."

In the long term the company wants to have around 25 stores in the UAE and up to 50 outlets across the GCC over the next seven years.

"We will have the exact same menu as in the US minus certain meat. We will aim to get deliveries out within 30 minutes. That's why the delivery areas will be limited to relatively close by.

"The Marina store will service JLT, JBR and the Marina and the Studio City store will cater for Arabian Ranches and Motor City. We will also be competitively priced with Papa John's and Domino's," Leach said.

Job vacancies are already being advertised with a position for a general manager for the Marina store requiring a minimum of three to five years of experience as a GM and a salary of between $30,000 and $40,000 (Dh110,190-Dh146,920) plus benefits.