Blaze Pizza News & events
Fundraiser: New World United Methodist Church in Arlington
All the funds raised will be donated to the preschool.
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
Fundraiser at Blaze College Station- Chi Omega
College Station held its first fundraiser with Chi Omega of Texas A&M. The funds raised went towards a bigger cause, Songfest. Songfest is the sororities biggest philanthropy event of the year. All the money raised will be donated to organizations such as Make A Wish Foundation.
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
FISD Back to School Bash
Our Frisco team participated in the Frisco Independent School District’s Back to School Bash on August 12th. The annual back to school bash provides thousands of children in the Frisco area an opportunity to receive free school supplies, backpacks, haircuts, medical checkups, etc. This year they hosted the event in conjunction with local members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
Frisco Glow Run
Blaze Pizza in Frisco participated in the Hotter 'n Firecrackers Glow 5K Run
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
Liberty By The Lake in The Colony
Our street team from the Blaze Pizza in The Colony participated in the 5k run as well as the festival.
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
Blaze Lafayette: Acadiana Chamber One Year Anniversary
One Acadiana Chamber hosted a one year anniversary ribbon cutting for the Lafayette Blaze Pizza. There the team also presented a check to the Acadiana Christian Athletics Cheerleading Team for a fundraiser they held at the restaurant.
See more photos in Our Photo Gallery
Waterside: Sharing is Caring
Neighboring tenant, REI, enjoyed some delicious lunch from Blaze Pizza in the Waterside Shopping Center.
Community Fair At The Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple
On May 27th, Team Frisco participated in a Community Fair at the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple. The team brought out their Ring of Fire Spin Wheel for fair goers to win cool Blaze swag. They also donated BOGOs for the walkathon goody bags that were passed out at the walkathon the following day.
See more photos by visiting our Blaze Frisco Gallery
Tap Takeover in Lafayette
Booze, Music and Philanthropy
To kickoff Craft Beer Week, Blaze Pizza in Lafayette teamed up with Abita Brewing Company on Saturday, May 13th for a Tap Take Over. We showcased Abita’s Creole Cream Ale, Andygator, Abita Amber, Louisiana Exclusive, Strawberry Lager and Purple Haze. An Abita Rep was also on site handing out Abita swag to guests that purchased beer.
Also in conjunction with the Tap Take Over, we held two fundraiser for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Friends of Lafayette Animal Shelter or FLASH as they are known by. Blaze will be donating twenty percent of the proceeds collected during their allotted time back to their good causes.
See more photos by visiting our Blaze Lafayette Gallery
Arlington Yelp Elite Event
On Tuesday, May 9th Yelp partnered with our Blaze Pizza store to host a Yelp Elite Event. The event brought in top Yelpers from the Arlington area to get a firsthand experience of the Blaze brand. Each Yelper was able to build their own pizza, received a drink of their choice and also participated in a social media contest for a chance to win a gift card from Blaze!
See more photos by visiting our Arlington Photo Gallery
On Tuesday, May 5th, our two Blaze Pizza restaurants in New Orleans participated in what’s considered the biggest day of fundraising in the city!
The 24 hour online giving event annually hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation allows community members in Southeast Louisiana to donate to any local nonprofit of choice. This year Blaze helped out by hosting fundraisers at both of our locations, we donated and delivered lunch to four non-profits with a Greater New Orleans Foundation Member and two Entergy Employees and we were a vendor at the GiveNOLA Day Fest. The Ring of Fire was a huge draw for the festival goers!
Last year’s event raised $4 million dollars from 28,000+ donations across the nation. This year’s event raised $4,889,567.00 from 38,000+ donations to 710 organizations.
See more photos by visiting our Freret, New Orleans Photo Gallery
4/20 Non-Con4mist Day
On April 20th, the Freret Street Blaze Pizza hosted what we call a Non-Con4mist Day for all college students in the area. They were able to come in and purchase a pizza at a discounted price of only $4 bucks! The store sold 531 $4 pizzas that day. A record breaker thus far.
Loyola University New Orleans Golf Tournament
Roll up your sleeves and let Blaze Pizza on the green. That's right Blaze Freret joined many golfers as they socialized before the big tournament. Golfers and attendees were able to spin the Ring of Fire for free Blaze prizes and we also donated two pizza parties for four for their raffle.
See more Freret photos on Our Gallery Page
Tap Take Over At Blaze
On Sunday, April 23rd Blaze locations in The Colony and Arlington held simultaneous Tap Take Overs and Fundraisers/Canned Food Drives to support the North Texas Food Bank.
Local taps at The Colony included Rabbit Hole Brewing, 903 Brewing, Cobra Brewing Company and Texas Ale Project. Local taps at Arlington included Three Nations Brewing Company, Woodcreek Brewing Company, Guns & Oil Brewing Company and HopFusion Ale Works.
Music at The Colony was provided by TFC Project.
Yelp Elite Event at Freret
On Monday, April 17th, Blaze Pizza on Freret Street teamed up with Yelp to host a Yelp Elite Event! At the event, about 40 local influential Yelpers were garnished with Blaze bags and swag. They were able to scope out the restaurant and get a firsthand look in to the process of making our delicious artisanal pizzas. And last but certainly not least, they were able to enjoy their own pizza and beverage. Talk about a win win. We most certainly enjoyed the company, Yelpers!
See more photos on Our Gallery Page
Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) Fundraiser
On April 11th, Blaze in New Orleans held a fundraiser for ARNO at the Central Business District location. ARNO is an organization created and dedicated to the rescue and aid of abandoned and homeless animals in the New Orleans area. Their fundraising efforts with Blaze and throughout the city allows them to continue to respond to the immediate needs of animals in need of medical care or those too old, too young, too sick, neglected, abused and deprived of love. ARNO promotes the foster, adoption and reunion of pets with caretakers as well as spaying and neutering all companion animals through our no-kill shelter.
Grace at The Greenlight Fundraiser
Grace at The Greenlight held a Fundraiser at our Blaze O’Keefe (New Orleans) restaurant.
Mission Statement: To offer New Orleans’ homeless persons choices and to provide for their basic needs in a loving manner that embraces the human spirit.
Acadiana Homeschool Builders Club Fundraiser
On December 13th, Blaze in Lafayette held a fundraiser for the Acadiana Homeschool Builders Club. These young people are all about giving back to their community through service. Builders Club is an international student-led organization providing members with opportunities to perform service, build character and develop leadership.
"The opportunity to partner with Blaze Pizza to raise "dough" for our service projects is fun!The chance to volunteer our time to serve Blaze Pizza Customers is just a way to say thank you and to show our community that we are serious about making an impact through service. We are not afraid to work!"
-Quote from Mackenzie, Club President
Run For Babies 5K
On Saturday, November 12th, Blaze Pizza of The Colony participated in the Run For Babies 5K held by the local March of Dimes branch. The team was set up underneath the Business Expo Tent and was able to interact with participants, talk about the brand and app, hand out bogos and give away some swag. Blaze also received recognition on stage for donating a gift card to the largest participating corporate team. Pizza party on The Colony!
First Annual Waterside By Fort Worth event.
In celebration of the Fort Worth community, Team Waterside participated in the First Annual Waterside By Fort Worth event. Community goers were able to learn about the newly developed Fort Worth Shopping Center through history, art, food, drink, music, health and giving back. Blaze Pizza was represented by the Waterside Team.
They passed out samples of pizza to guests, raffled off a few prizes and ran a fundraiser for the Don’t Forget To Feed Me organization. Twenty percent of the proceeds collected that day went back to the organization.
See more photos in the Forth Worth Waterside Gallery
Blaze Frisco is down for the youth! The Non-Con4mist Day on September 7th for Frisco Young Life was very successful. The group had a great turn out and the team received nothing but positive feedback. Way to go team Frisco!
Arlington Blazing Up The Community
Blaze Arlington was able to help the Vine Apartment Complex’s CARES Team at their BBQ by donating 50 pizza coupons as incentives to award their first 50 guests along with two free pizza cards as raffle items. The CARES Team noted they had a really great turn out! All the coupons were handed out and there were two lucky winners for the free pizza. Blaze wishes the team much success with growing the Vine community.
Pictured here are some of the winners of free pizza cards.
Arlington Classics Academy Fundraiser
On Tuesday, August 30th Blaze Pizza in Arlington hosted a fundraising event for Arlington Classics Academy Fundraiser. Blaze donated 20% of the proceeds from the meals of patrons who showed the fundraiser flyer and/or wore the fundraiser sticker.
Arlington Peach Tree Carnival
On Saturday, July 30th Blaze Pizza in Arlington participated in the Peach Tree Carnival. The street team was able to set up a table that allowed the children to spin and win prizes from the Wheel of Fire as well as sampled out s’more pies.
See more photos in the Arlington Gallery.
Arlington Boys & Girls Clubs Fundraiser
On Tuesday, June 7th Blaze Pizza in Arlington hosted a fundraising event for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington. Blaze donated 20% of the proceeds made from the meals of guests who mentioned the organization during their order.
GIVE NOLA DAY
On Tuesday, May 3rd Blaze Pizza participated in GiveNOLA Day, an event that raised money for over 700 nonprofit organizations.
One Year Anniversary and Tap Takeover
at Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza (Frisco)
To celebrate 365 days in Frisco, Blaze is "causing a scene for a good cause" and partnering with St. Jude to donate 20 percent of the day's proceeds to the organization. Funds raised will go toward the Dallas St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer in September.
Several Texas breweries will be “taking over” Blaze’s taps as part of the party, offering new and limited edition craft beers, including 3 Nations Brewing, 903 Brewers, Noble Rey Brewing Co. and Rabbit Hole Brewing.
Guests will also enjoy live music from Lone Star Bottle Band from 4-7 p.m. and receive a complimentary s'more pie with purchase of pizza.
Information provided by the venue
Yelp Gets Hot @ Blaze Pizza
On May 18th Blaze Pizza hosted an event for Yelp!
See photos from that day and read some fantastic reviews at the Yelp Event Page.
Arlington Public Library Fundraiser
On May 14 Blaze Pizza participated in the Arlington Public Library Fundraiser benefitting the Summer Reading Program. The Fundraiser was held at Blaze Pizza in Arlington. Blaze donated 20% of the proceeds from the meals of patrons who showed a library fundraiser flyer.
Grown-up pizza in New Orleans: A guide
By Brett Anderson
611 O'Keefe Ave., New Orleans, 504.208.1028
The first local location of this growing fast-casual chain landed in the South Market District last year. It feels very much like a restaurant conceived in a boardroom. (Blaze was started by the founders of Wetzel's Pretzels, and Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner is one of its investors.)
Blaze is essentially a Neopolitan pizza place married to a Chipotle. The pizzas, developed by chef Bradford Kent of Olio Pizzeria & Café in Los Angeles, are also remarkably consistent: crisp from center-to-edge, with toppings applied sparingly, as they should be.
Pi Day Pizza’s Only $3.14 on March 14th + Giveaway Winners
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is celebrating Pi Day on Monday, March 14 by inviting guests to build their own artisanal pizzas for just $3.14 each at any Blaze Pizza location.
Plus we had a giveaway to 10 lucky winners!
Keep in mind, the company will also use Pi Day to officially launch its new Snapchat channel, with a “Be There Or Be Square” flash promo as part of its March 14 Snapchat story (user name: @blazepizza). Blaze’s Snapchat channel will feature peeks behind the scenes at restaurant openings, pop up “pizza party” events and occasional takeovers by guest Snappers.
Blaze Pizza is a modern-day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies.
The interactive assembly-line format allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of fresh, high-quality ingredients—all for under $8. The 11-inch pizzas are cooked in a blazing hot open-flame oven—the centerpiece of the restaurant—where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire’d and ready to eat in just 180 seconds.
Plus, Blaze has a great outdoor patio, perfect for dining al fresco at night.
Blaze Pizza Frisco
The Centre at Preston Ridge
3311 Preston Ridge Road, Suite 13
Frisco, TX 75034
(In the Best Buy shopping center)
Blaze Pizza Arlington
Parkway Central Shopping Center (next to Whole Foods)
841 E. Lamar Blvd.
Arlington, TX 76011
First bites: Blaze
This article first appeared here,
Written and photographed by: Robert Philpot
The vibe: Noisy. We should note that this was during a special preview night, so a lot of people were checking the place out, which added to the noise level; no doubt it’s quieter when there’s less of a crowd, but be prepared for some volume with chatter bouncing off the hard floors in this place.
Things moved pretty quickly through the line, staffed by energetic servers. If you’ve been to a Pie Five, you know the drill: Choose a sauce, choose toppings. Or choose from a selection of signature pizzas. There are fewer crust choices than at a Pie Five, but there are more (and better) topping choices at Blaze (as Bud Kennedy pointed out in an Eats Beat column this week, however, neither is as good as the homegrown Pizza Snob near TCU). There is, but the way, a Pie Five practically across Collins Street from this Blaze location, so the new kid in town appears to be throwing down a gauntlet.
Although the serving line was packed, things moved quickly as we ordered a signature “Veg Out” pizza (zucchini, mushrooms, red onion, mozzarella, gorgonzola, red sauce dollops) and a build-your-own with spicy red sauce, gorgonzola, mozzarella and jalapeño (both are $7.95). When Blaze says “Fast-Fire’d,” it isn’t kidding: Pizzas are ready in, as they put it, 180 seconds. We quickly discovered that it’s best to hang out near the ovens, where your name will be called out when your pizza is done — especially since it was a little hard to hear the names amid the rest of the noise.
The food: My wife and I polished off both our 11-inch pizzas without much problem, and preferred our spicy, tangy build-your-own to the relatively more standard Veg Out. Crusts were thin and airy. There are a few bottled beers available, including some from Dallas’ Community Beer Company. Drinks are otherwise self-serve; in his Eats Beat column, Bud mentions a blood orange-lemonade that’s available. We’ll have to try that next time.
The verdict: Yeah, there’s better pizza out there, but we don’t live in north Arlington, and we’d welcome a Blaze in our neighborhood for those nights when we don’t feel like cooking at home. Note that a Blaze is planned for the Waterside Shopping Center that’s coming to south Fort Worth.
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, 841 E. Lamar Blvd., near Whole Foods Market
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza Announces Grand Opening of First Austin, TX Restaurant
Free Pizzas for Blaze Pizza Fans at Lakeline Commons Location on Friday, December 11
AUSTIN, TX (December 7, 2015) – Austin is heating up with the opening of Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza. The fast-casual artisanal pizza concept known for its chef-driven menu and casually hip restaurants, will officially open its doors in Austin’s Lakeline Commons on Thursday, December 10. To celebrate the grand opening, the restaurant will offer FREE build-your-own artisanal pizzas on Friday, December 11 from 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. to anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Additionally, there will be a formal ribbon cutting ceremony as the Mayor welcomes Blaze to the city and guests will be provided with entertainment by XXXX.
Blaze Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint” serving up artisanal pizzas that are both fast and affordable. Since its first restaurant debuted in 2012, Blaze has quickly become one of the nation’s hottest restaurant concepts, with fans lining up each day for the custom-built pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. Each restaurant features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of artisanal ingredients – all for about $8. The generously-sized personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire’d and ready to eat in just 180 seconds.
Each Blaze restaurant makes its own pizza dough from scratch daily using a recipe developed by Blaze Pizza’s Executive Chef Bradford Kent (“The Pizza Whisperer”), which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature light-as-air, crisp crust. For pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.
“As a foodie town, we can’t wait for Austinites to taste our take on pizza,” said Chef Kent. “At Blaze, we’re all about carefully sourcing ingredients, cooking by fire, and letting guests enjoy high-quality artisanal pizza at crazy fast speed. We think that the authenticity of our food, plus our service culture that genuinely focuses on the happiness of our guests and crew, will be key to our success here.”
Local craft beers will be poured on tap, including Guns & Oil’s Esteem, Black Star’s American Lager, 512’s WIT Beer and 512’s White IPA. Seasonal beers will rotate and patrons can also enjoy a selection of wine.
“We are so excited to introduce Blaze to the Austin and Cedar Park communities where families, friends, teammates, co-workers or anyone can all gather and build their own personal pizzas,” said Brian Kelley, Managing Partner of Saddles Blazin LLC, a Blaze Pizza franchisee. “We look forward to turning our kitchen into a Friday night family tradition, a celebratory hub to toast a local team’s game winning goal or simply just a place to grab some great pizza.”
The restaurant will also partner with local schools, sports clubs, nonprofits and other community organizations to host fundraising events at Blaze, donating 20 percent of an event’s proceeds back to local groups.
Blaze Pizza’s Grand Opening and “Free Pizza Day” Free pizza on Friday, December 11 for guests who follow Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Opening Day: Thursday, December 10 at 10:30 a.m.
Free Pizza Day: Friday, December 11
Ribbon Cutting at 10:00 a.m.
Free pizza served 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Music entertainment by XXXXX from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Blaze Pizza Austin
Lakeline Commons (Across from Lakeline Mall)
14009 North Research Blvd., Suite 103
Austin, TX 78717
Blaze Pizza is calling all pizzasmiths in the greater Austin area to join their team. Submit an application for crew and shift manager online.
Blaze Pizza will be open Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Blaze Pizza Coming Soon to Austin
Article by Hayden Walker
A modern day “pizza joint,” Blaze is known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies since opening its first location in 2012. Each restaurant features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients – all for under $8.
The new Austin restaurant will also feature a selection of local craft beer and draft wine on tap. It will also use both recycled and sustainable materials and energy-efficient LED lighting, along with eco-friendly and compostable packaging.
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza To Open First Austin, TX Location
“Build-Your-Own” Artisanal Pizza Restaurant Set to Open in Lakeline Commons in December
October 27, 2015 – Los Angeles, Calif. – Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the fast-casual concept known for its chef-driven menu and casually hip restaurants, today announced that it will soon open its first Austin location. The highly anticipated restaurant, which will feature a 2,600 square foot interior with seating for 75 inside and an additional 25 seats on an outdoor patio, will open in December in Austin’s Lakeline Commons (14009 North Research Blvd., #103), close to the Lakeline Mall.
Blaze Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint” that has been inspiring excitement and cultivating fanatics for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies since it opened its first location in 2012. Each restaurant features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of carefully sourced, high-quality ingredients – all for under $8. The generously-sized 11” pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire’d and ready to eat in just 180 seconds. Each restaurant makes its own dough from scratch using a recipe developed by critically-acclaimed Executive Chef Bradford Kent (the “Pizza Whisperer”), which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature light-as-air, crisp crust. For pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese. The new Austin restaurant will also feature a selection of local craft beer and draft wine on tap.
To create the perfect vibe inside the new Austin restaurant, award-winning design architect Ana Henton has added several unique, modern touches, including an oversized wall graphic custom-built to suit the space. Additionally, in support of the company’s commitment to “Intelligent Choices for Our Pizzas, People & Planet”, the Austin restaurant will use both recycled and sustainable materials and energyefficient LED lighting, and will feature eco-friendly, compostable packaging.
“At Blaze, we’re all about creating an engaging dining experience where guests can enjoy artisanal pizza that’s both fast and affordable,” said Jim Mizes, president & COO of Blaze Pizza. “The authenticity of our food, plus a service culture that genuinely focuses on the happiness of our guests and crew – have been key to our popularity and expansion.”
The newest Blaze restaurant is looking forward to building strong roots within the community, offering a spot where guests can connect, create and enjoy. To that end, the restaurant promotes a turnkey fundraiser program that returns 20 percent of an event’s proceeds back to the organization, helping schools, sports clubs and other local groups “cause a scene for a good cause.” “Austin’s creative food and craft beer scene is inspiring. We are very excited to ‘fire up’ our artisanal pizzas here,” said Brian Kelley, Managing Partner of Saddles Blazin LLC, a Blaze Pizza franchisee. “We know Blaze will be a great addition to the community with our fresh, high-quality ingredients, ecofriendly culture, and commitment to local craft beer—all in a cool environment.”
About Blaze Pizza
The first Blaze Pizza® restaurant opened on Aug. 6, 2012, in Irvine, Calif., and quickly gained attention for its chef-driven recipes, thoughtful interior design, and a service culture that celebrates individuality. Now ranked as the overall #2 fast-casual brand in FastCasual.com’s annual Top 100 list, Blaze Pizza is building momentum and developing a cult-like following as it expands across the country. The company currently operates 91 restaurants in 22 states and Canada, including the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas and Washington D.C. Founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels), the concept is backed by investors including LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis. For more information, please visit blazepizza.com and facebook.com/blazepizza or click here to view a company video.
Blaze Frisco Tap Takeover
FRISCO, Texas (Oct. 7, 2015) — Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza in Frisco is teaming up with four breweries new to the Dallas / Fort Worth market for a beer tap takeover to raise funds for Operation Kindness, the oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas. The event will take place on Saturday, October 17 from 2–6 p.m.
Blaze Pizza will feature beers from Noble Rey, Back Country Brewery, Texas Ale Project and Guns & Oil Brewing Co.—all breweries new to FullClip Craft Distributors. In addition to the new Texas-brewed beers (plus one from Frisco, Colo.), the event will also feature live music from Dallas’ Lone Star Bottle Band. During the event, 20 percent of food and beverage proceeds will be donated to Operation Kindness. Guests who purchase a four-beer sampler will receive a complimentary and event-branded pint glass.
“We have a great relationship with our local breweries, and when talking with them, we wanted to team up to help make a difference in our community,” said Greg Hazard, Director of Operations for Blaze. “Beer and pizza is an American favorite. We’re excited to debut new breweries to the Frisco community, while celebrating for such a great cause as Operation Kindness.” FullClip Craft is a local distributor that partners with a select number of local and other craft breweries in an effort to build a broad portfolio of beer styles. “We're really excited to team up with Blaze and Operation Kindness to support both the craft beer community and the broader Collin County community with a unique event like this,” said Joey Marzuola, general manager of FullClip Craft Distributors.
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza promotes opening with social media giveaway - Frisco, TX
See original article here at Nation's Restaurant News
Article: Ron Ruggless
Photo: Ron Ruggless
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza is cleverly building its social media following with some delicious, cheese-bubbling bribery.
The Los Angeles-based fast-casual pizza concept will open its first Dallas-Fort Worth location Friday, and will give away a free pizza to any guest who follows the brand’s main three social media accounts, indicating the increasing importance of those platforms in building brands.
“Show us on your phone that you follow Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and get your very own custom-built artisanal pizza,” the restaurant informed customers in pre-opening events this week.
The offer is only valid on Friday, and only at the sole Frisco, Texas, restaurant, which is being developed by the Saddles Blazin LLC franchise group, which has another unit in New Orleans and development rights to most of Texas, except for a section of southern Houston, and all of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The social media giveaway aims directly at Blaze Pizza’s target audience of Millennials, a spokeswoman said, with strategy of creating social buzz and drawing a large first-day audience as the brand enters the new market.
The build-your-own-pizza chain also appeals to Millennials as employees, said Greg Hazard, a principal of Saddles Blazin' and also chief operating officer of Pensacola, Fla.-based Paradigm Investment Group, a franchisee of the Hardee’s and Jersey Mike’s brands.
Nation’s Restaurant News toured the new Blaze Pizza restaurant in Frisco, which is the 66th unit of the growing chain. Hazard said the interaction between guests and the staff who build pizzas makes jobs at Blaze appealing to younger employees.
“That interaction between the customers and employees is really attractive for the Millennial workers,” Hazard said.
The new Frisco, Texas, unit is in an outdoor shopping mall that includes such retail neighbors as Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Best Buy, Super Target, Old Navy and Chili’s Grill & Bar. It covers 3,375 square feet, and seats 82 diners inside and 32 customers on the patio.
Hazard said he considered the open Wood Stone oven, which bakes pizzas made with the brand’s specially developed dough in three minutes, the centerpiece of restaurant, although large murals and assorted and movable tables and seating are also highlights. The 11-inch pizzas range in price from $5 for a basic pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, to $7.95 for build-your-own and signature options.
The menu also includes gluten-free dough and vegan cheeses.
“We make sure employees change their gloves and walk each gluten-free pizza through the entire process,” Hazard said.
The first Blaze Pizza opened in August 2012, in Irvine, Calif. The company now has restaurants in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Blaze Pizza was founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel, the co-founders of Wetzel’s Pretzels, and includes such investors as basketball player LeBron James, journalist and author Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis.
New Orleans Grand Opening
Lines wrapped around the corner in New Orleans for the Blaze Pizza grand opening. As customers approached the store, they passed a group of Jazz musicans performing for the event. Click below to watch a video of their performance.
LeBron-Backed Pizza Chain Aims to Top Chipotle
Blaze Pizza LLC, a fast-casual restaurant chain touted as the next Chipotle, added 40 new locations last year and saw sales increase more than fivefold.
That has co-founder Rick Wetzel setting his sights higher than becoming the Chipotle of Pizza. He wants to be the fast-casual restaurant version of Starbucks.
“There’s an opportunity for somebody to really be big,” said Wetzel, who previously founded Wetzel’s Pretzels. “Not just Chipotle, with 1,800 stores. Who’s going to be the Starbucks of fast casual? There’s going to be a shift soon for people to start thinking above Chipotle.”
Wetzel and his wife Elise founded Blaze Pizza in 2011 and opened the first two locations in California a year later. Early investment from celebrities such as LeBron James and Maria Shriver gave the brand some buzz, and Wetzel has lined up franchise partners to build restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. He describes Blaze as the largest and fastest-growing chain in the fast-casual market, a segment that typically has higher-quality ingredients -- and higher prices -- than fast food.
Blaze sales jumped 450 percent to $33 million in 2014. About 62 restaurants will open this year, and Blaze will have at least 500 locations by 2020. An initial public offering is possible in the next two or three years, Wetzel said.
“We’re going really fast,” he said. “Chipotle’s done an awesome job, but we’re on a trajectory to go bigger. I think fast-casual pizza can be bigger than a fast-casual Mexican place.”
The 10 Blaze locations open throughout 2014 posted $1.55 million average sales last year, better than Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. was doing in 2002, when it was a decade old and had 227 locations, according to a Blaze statement. Wetzel estimates there’s room for about 2,000 Blaze Pizza restaurants in the U.S., roughly the number of stores Chipotle plans to have by the end of 2015. Matching Starbucks Corp.’s number of locations would be less realistic: It has about 12,000 stores in the U.S.
Blaze employs an assembly-line system, similar to Chipotle’s, that lets customers customize their 11-inch pizzas with toppings such as arugula, applewood bacon and gorgonzola cheese. The 800-degree ovens have the pizzas ready in about three minutes, Wetzel said. Most customers get in and out with a pizza and drink for about $10.
Fast-casual chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread Co. have enjoyed success in recent years, particularly among younger consumers. Fast-casual restaurant traffic rose 8 percent in 2014, while fast-food traffic was flat, according to NPD Group. Fast-casual pizza, however, is still a fairly small market in the U.S. Of the estimated 73,000 pizza restaurants in the U.S., fewer than 200 are fast-casual, Wetzel said.
Getting to the scale of Chipotle is no sure thing. Many franchise chains struggle to grow beyond a certain size, and the pizza market -- fast-casual or not -- is a crowded field. Finding high-traffic real estate for restaurants also can be a challenge.
Still, big chains are less entrenched in pizza than they are in other areas, such as burgers. Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut account for about 40 percent of the U.S. pizza market. In contrast, 96 percent share of the fast-food burger industry is controlled by national chains like Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. With a fragmented market of independent restaurants, there’s room for a national pizza chain like Blaze to get traction, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Inc., a research firm in Chicago.
Chipotle, meanwhile, has its own pizza chain. It has invested in Pizzeria Locale, a fast-casual concept with two locations in Denver and another one slated to open in Kansas City, Missouri, this summer.
“Lots of restaurants claim to be the Chipotle of X, but Pizzeria Locale really is,” said Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle. “It shares our food culture and our people culture, which are really the things that make Chipotle work the way it does.”
Blaze has leveraged its association with bold-faced names to help put the brand on the map amid its rapid expansion. When Wetzel founded Wetzel’s Pretzels in 1994, he had financial backing from John Davis, a Hollywood movie producer. Davis got involved this time too and brought a few friends in, including Tom Werner, a co-owner of the Boston Red Sox. LeBron James, the world-renowned forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, said he was drawn to Blaze because the company is shaking up the pizza industry.
“I partner with companies that are innovating and challenging the status quo,” James said in an e-mail provided by a publicist. “Most importantly, it has to be something I like and would spend my own money to buy. Blaze checked every box and I’m excited about what they are doing.”
Taken from www.bloomberg.com
Blaze Pizza to Heat Up Frisco Pizza Scene in May
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the celebrity-backed build-your-own pizza chain that’s among the fastest growing brands in the nation, will open its first Texas location in Frisco in mid-May.
The Preston Road and Gaylord Parkway location, in the Centre at Preston Ridge, is owned by a San Diego-based franchisee. The Frisco outlet will be among the first Blaze locations to carry local beer – including offerings from 512 Brewing and Community Beer Company — along with wine.
Founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels), Blaze is one of the key competitors to Pie Five, a fast casual concept based in The Colony. Blaze is backed by investors including LeBron James, Maria Shriver and Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner.
Each restaurant features an assembly-line format, with up to eight workers, called pizzasmiths, crafting 11-inch pizzas that are baked in an open-flame oven. The pizza is ready withinin three minutes and costs about $8. No word yet from franchisee Saddles Blazin LLC on how many locations are planned for North Texas.
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza is the fastest growing build-your-own pizza chain in the country and is on track to open its 60th restaurant in December of this year. The plan is to open one store ever six days through the end of the year. As of now Blaze Pizza operates throughout California and the Midwest, with stores soon opening throughout many of the largest cities in the nation. When asked by restaurantnews.com about Blaze Pizza the President and COO, Jim Mizes, said “we lead the category in defining the best overall guest experience – which includes high food quality, lighting fast speed of service and appealing store designs. We believe our focused execution in these three key areas will help Blaze Pizza to not only differentiate itself, but to also deliver the highest average unit sales volume in the category.” And their concept works. In 2013 the California franchises reported an average net sales of $35,308 over the 52 weeks they were open in the year.