Austin’s Greek-Mexican fusion food trailer Ziki is set for expansion

The food trailer and modular kitchen operator is planning 10 more locations around Austin and is exploring markets outside of Texas.

It’s a sign you’re in the fast lane when Gigafund, which has invested more than $1 billion in Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is pumping millions of dollars into your startup.

That’s the case with Austin-based Ziki, a Greek-Mexican fusion food trailer and modular kitchen operator that’s expanding locally and — with new funding — embarking on national expansion.

The Statesman recently spoke to founder Nick Nanakos about his plans for ziki, short for tzatziki, the classic Greek dip or sauce made with yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and herbs.

What is Ziki?

Ziki started out with a grocery trailer at 2118 S. Congress Avenue. It has added a second location near the University of Texas and plans to open a third location at Third Street and Congress Avenue later this month.

Who Invented Ziki?

Nick Nanakos founded Ziki with the aim of offering health-conscious Greek and Mexican fusion cuisine. Nanokos grew up in the restaurant business in New York City. “I come from a restaurant entrepreneur bloodline,” he said. “My grandfather came from Greece and started out selling hot dogs. He came into diners and restaurants. My mom ran Greek restaurants in New York called Tzatziki, after the iconic sauce.

More:Austin sees venture capital dollars falling as concerns about the economy mount

After spending some time working in derivatives and analytics at JP Morgan, Nanakos realized that this was not his calling.

“It sat behind a computer screen all day,” he said. “It didn’t show me what I wanted to do, but it definitely showed me what I didn’t want to do.”

So he moved to Austin and followed his restaurant roots.

How much did Ziki collect?

Last month, the company raised $6.7 million in seed funding from investors including top-tier venture capital firm Gigafund.

“I spoke to 120 investors and was told no, and it ended up being Gigafund,” he said. “We only had one location, but they immediately understood where we wanted to take this. It’s the seed phase, so they don’t look at numbers so much, they look at vision.”

More:2022 Dining Guide: The best restaurants in Austin

As Ziki investor Ryan Metzger described the company, “Ziki approaches restaurants like Tesla approaches cars – with a master plan to be the fastest and most creative company in the category.”

What’s next for Ziki?

The company plans to open 10 new locations in Austin over the next six months. The next market will be Miami, Nanakos said.

The Statesman’s Startup Spotlight series spotlights Central Texas startups with compelling stories. To nominate a startup for the series, email Lori Hawkins at l[email protected] or Kara Carlson at [email protected].

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