LeBron-endorsed Blaze Pizza chain coming to Asheville

The Pasadena, California-based Blaze allows customers to customize pizzas, which are then fired to completion in an 800-degree oven in about 180 seconds.

Toppings include Italian sausage, vegan cheese, spinach and fresh basil, with sauces including spicy red sauce, cream sauce and an olive-oil base. Gluten-sensitive pies are available, as are salads and desserts.

The price point for a personal pizza and drink is about $10.

The chain pizza restaurant has real traction as of late, bolstered in part by celebrity endorsements, including that of LeBron James. But James is more than the talent — he also owns a piece of the pie, with franchise rights in Miami and Chicago.

In order to work with the chain, James relinquished a contract he had with McDonald’s. “That’s big news in the industry,” said real estate developer John Spake, who’s also a leasing representative for Gerber Village.

Spake said quick-bake pizza is a swiftly growing segment in fast-casual dining, adding that a similar franchise is looking at real estate in another part of Asheville. But the operators of the Blaze chain, he said, have the experience to withstand some competition.

“This is not their first venture into the food industry,” he said. “The brand and financials are very strong.”

Indeed, Bloomberg recently reported a jump in Blaze Pizza sales of 450 percent to $33 million last year, with 62 restaurants slated to open this year.

Blaze should have at least 500 locations by 2020, the report said.

More about Blaze here.

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/entertainment/dining/eat-scene/2015/10/26/lebron-endorsed-blaze-pizza-chain-coming-asheville/74636624/ Mackensy Lunsford, mlunsford@citizen-times.com 9:05 a.m. EDT October 27, 2015

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