Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza sets the goals pretty high for a fast-casual restaurant.
They kind of have to – they’re endorsed by NBA superstar LeBron James.
At the two Blaze locations in Columbia, customers can build their own pizzas by making selections from three sauces, nine types of cheeses, eight types of meat, 19 veggies and four finishing sauces – or they can get them all for the same price of $7.85.
All of the dough is made fresh from scratch daily before fermenting for 24 hours and being used for pizzas the following day.
And they aim to cook the pizza in the restaurant’s special blazing hot pizza oven in 180 seconds.
“From the time you walk in the door to the time you get your pizza shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes,” said Phillip Siratt, manager for the Northeast Richland Blaze.
Blaze accomplishes that quick-service goal using a blazing hot, open-flame oven – the centerpiece of the restaurant – where trained “pizzasmiths” ensure that the thin-crust, generously sized personal pizzas are cooked to perfection.
If customers don’t want to select their own toppings, they can choose from one of eight signature pizzas. The most popular is the BBQ CHKN pizza, topped with marinated chicken, mozzarella, red onion, banana peppers, gorgonzola and a barbecue sauce drizzle. The Meat Eater is a close second, featuring pepperoni and house-made pork-blend meatballs. And a gluten-free crust option is available.
How did Blaze Pizza get its start?
Blaze was founded by Rick and Elise Wetzel, who also are founders and owners of California-based fast food franchise Wetzel’s Pretzels. While out for a quick lunch break one day, the Wetzels were craving pizza but didn’t think they had enough time to order and wait on a pizza to cook. So, the couple stopped at a build-your-own burrito eatery and, while in line selecting ingredients, decided they could create a pizza eatery with the same build-your-own format and one that would cook a pizza quickly, using special fast-fired ovens. In 2012, the first Blaze opened in Irvine, California.
Blaze opened its Harbison location off Park Terrace Drive in 2016. The Columbia Towne Center location near Village at Sandhill opened in April.
In a business that can go through countless containers of ingredients and goods each week, the Wetzels have made it a goal to decrease Blaze’s carbon footprint by doing things such as using items like straws made from plants rather than petroleum, eco-friendly to-go packaging, and energy-efficient LED lighting. That, and the restaurant itself is constructed from recycled and sustainable materials, according to the franchise’s corporate office.
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza
WHERE: 471-1 Towne Center Place and 175 Park Terrace Drive
WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday