Here is an extended version of the story about Blaze Pizza opening on State Street. The previous story was done in a hurry to get the news about their free pizza out there. This extended version is what I put together for my column in this Thursday’s Santa Barbara Independent:
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the fast-casual pizza concept opened on December 16th at 3925 State Street, in the former home of Carl’s Jr. at the Five Points Shopping Center. Blaze opened their first South Coast location at 6546 Pardall Road in Isla Vista in March 2014.
Each restaurant features an 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 fresh ingredients — all for about $8.25. The personal pizzas are then sent to an open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where dedicated “pizzasmiths” ensure that the thin-crust pies are ready to eat in 3 minutes. Restaurants make their own dough from scratch using a recipe developed by Chef Bradford Kent, which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature crust. Almost all of the pizza and salad ingredients are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and fillers. Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.
“Our mission at Blaze is really simple – we’re taking pizza back to its roots,” said Jim Mizes, president & COO of Blaze Pizza. “By making dough in-house, carefully sourcing ingredients, and cooking by fire, we’re giving guests a great way to enjoy artisanal pizza without the wait. It’s changing the way people think about and eat pizza.”
The restaurant is constructed with recycled and sustainable materials, uses eco-friendly packaging, and features energy-efficient LED lighting. The company has also developed a turn-key in-restaurant fundraiser program that returns 20% of an event’s proceeds back to local organizations, and will be partnering with local schools, sports clubs and other organizations to host fundraising events at the new restaurant.
The first Blaze Pizza restaurant opened in 2012, in Irvine, CA and the company currently operates more than 160 restaurants in 31 states and Canada. Blaze Pizza is ranked #2 in the 2015 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, released in April 2016. The top-three fastest-growing chains listed in the report were fast-casual pizza concepts, with Pieology Pizzeria (7000 Hollister Avenue, Goleta) at 67% sales growth, Blaze Pizza at 205% and MOD Pizza (no South Coast locations), the year’s fastest growing chain, at 220%. Blaze Pizza is Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-midnight (the hours listed today on Blaze’s web site are wrong). Call 681-7002 or visit blazepizza.com.