Zahra Restaurant is the vision of owner Khalid Jilani, an American of Pakistani heritage who grew up in the town of State College, Pennsylvania. He graduated from State College Area School District in 1998, and attended Penn State where he earned a BA in Political Science in 2004.
Jilani worked for Sheetz for over seven years while attending high school and college. After graduation, he moved to Harrisburg and started working in human services with autistic children, then took a job managing healthcare for the state with an insurance company called CBHNP.
In 2007 he left the insurance business and opened his own convenience store in Harrisburg, but a few years later he sold the business to pursue his childhood dream of running a restaurant that would offer something unique to the local community while paying homage to his Pakistani roots. After the birth of his daughter, he decided to name his restaurant after her, and on October 8, 2011, Zahra Restaurant had its grand opening.