The top fast-casual franchise pizza concept in the country is blazing a trail to Austin, with plans to open 10 new pizza shops this year.
Blaze Pizza, a Los Angeles-based company founded in 2011 that now boasts 340 restaurants across 41 states and six countries — including one in North Austin on Research Boulevard — will grow its Austin presence as part its “aggressive” 2021 expansion plan to bring 16 new locations to key markets, which also include Panama City, Florida, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Blaze also plans to open three more locations in the Dallas area (one is already operating) this spring.
Delivering the local pizza shops will be Kelsey Irvine, multi-unit operator for Blaze and CEO of Carpo Pizza Enterprises, who will open the 10 Austin-area Blaze locations. Irvine certainly has the franchise chops to do it, as he currently operates 11 Jersey Mike’s franchise locations.
“When I was introduced to Blaze Pizza, I immediately recognized that the strength of its business model, coupled with an exceptional high-quality product, was a recipe for success, and am thrilled to be coming on board in the midst of an exciting period of growth,” Irvine says. “Blaze has developed a passionate following from consumers throughout the country since its inception, and I have no doubt that the Austin community is going to fall in love with this concept and its one-of-a-kind guest experience.”
Blaze is known for its customizable menu options and artisanal pizzas, and begs comparisons to other such franchises in the Austin area like MOD Pizza and Pieology.
But, similar to Austin’s ever-growing taqueria market, there may be enough local pizza demand to sustain a lot more pizzerias. In fact, according to industry market-research company IBIS World, the American pizza market generated an estimated $47 billion in 2019, and Austin doesn’t even make the list of the top 25 cities with the highest ratio of pizza joints, so it’s likely not a pie-in-the-sky idea to expand Blaze so rapidly in the Lone Star State, and Austin specifically.
“Texas and the Southeast have continued to be ideal markets for our brand,” says Ed Yancey, vice president of franchise development for Blaze Pizza, “and we look forward to tapping into the wealth of potential in these regions while exponentially expanding our footprint over the next few years.”