Blaze Pizza is taking over America.
The brand opened 50 restaurants across the country in 2014. This year, it plans to open 60 to 70 new locations.
Celebrities like LeBron James and Maria Shriver have invested in the brand, which is based in Southern California.
Much like Chipotle or Subway, Blaze Pizza emphasises customisation.
Customers build pizzas choosing from seven cheeses, eight proteins, 20 vegetables, and three sauces, president and Chief Operating Officer Jim Mizes told Business Insider.
The pizzas are then placed in a stone hearth oven. They’re ready in about three minutes.
A few years ago, Blaze Pizza was just an idea.
In 2011, Rick and Elise Wetzel, founders of Wetzel’s pretzels, went looking for a fast-casual pizza chain. They came up empty-handed.
The couple enlisted the help of renowned pizza chef Bradford Kent to open a “better pizza” chain.
“Until recently, your only options were the big, traditional, pizza chains or sit-down restaurants,” Mizes said. “We wanted to build something with a modern twist that would resonate with millennials.”
Mizes said the fresh ingredients and stone hearth oven make the product taste better. Blaze Pizza makes the dough by hand and lets it rise for 24 hours before serving.
“We’re taking pizza back to its roots,” he said. “If you use the method of putting pizza on a conveyer oven, you’re going to get a less quality product.”
While Blaze Pizza has a variety of pies on the menu, Mizes estimates 90% of orders are customised in some way.
A photo posted by Blaze Pizza (@blazepizza) on Jan 24, 2015 at 7:41pm PST
The chain’s modern architecture was influenced by Chipotle. The restaurants have a sleek, modern, urban feel with lots of stainless steel and reclaimed wood.
“The atmosphere helps bring out the quality of the product,” Mizes said. “If you eat a Chipotle burrito in a Taco Bell, it’s not going to taste as good.
The chain also trains workers to greet and engage with customers.
A photo posted by Blaze Pizza (@blazepizza) on Nov 18, 2014 at 2:06pm PST
Blaze Pizza has some competition.
Chipotle is opening its third Pizzeria Locale. The chain is very similar to Blaze Pizza.
Other fast-casual chains, like PizzaRev, have also expanded in popularity.
A photo posted by Blaze Pizza (@blazepizza) on Dec 23, 2014 at 2:40pm PST
But Mizes says getting into the business early has benefitted his brand.
“We got into the game early and have the wind at our backs,” he said. “We’re opening a new restaurant every five days and will just keep growing.”
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