The founders of Wetzel’s Pretzels are opening a Subway-style pizzeria near the UC Irvine campus.
Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza will open this summer at the University Center where customers can order personal-sized pizzas from a pre-set menu, or build their own pizza with the available toppings. Some toppings might have an additional charge. The 11-inch pizza will sell for $6.85 and a simple cheese will sell for $5.
Founders Elise and Rick Wetzel partnered with Chef Bradford Kent, owner of Olio Pizzeria & Café in Los Angeles, to develop a dough that bakes a light crust.
At the start of the assembly line, Blaze will flatten a ball of dough for each customer. From there the customer can choose what does and doesn’t get to be a part of their creation. Then the thin-crust pizza is sent to the oven as you pay.
Blaze can also accommodate certain dietary needs with its gluten-free dough and vegan cheese option.
The centerpiece of the eatery will be the open-hearth oven where the pizzas will cook for 180 seconds in temperatures reaching 800 degrees.
Customers can also choose to build their own salad from a selection of greens, toppings and house-made dressings. A selection of wine and hand-crafted beer will be available as well.
The announcement of a new pizza chain comes as pizza consumption is on the rise, according to market research firm Technomic. In a recent survey, the firm said 41 percent of consumers are eating pizza once a week. That’s up from 26 percent two years ago.
“Consumers increasingly view pizza as the ‘go-to’ food when they don’t feel like cooking,” said Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano.
New pizza concepts expanding or adding more locations in Orange County include Pizza Lounge, Spin, Pizzeria Mozza, Pitfire Pizza and Pie-ology. The latter concept is identical to Blaze. Dubbed the Chipotle of pizzerias, Pie-ology in Fullerton allows customers to order their 12-inch custom pizzas in an assembly-line fashion. Pizzas cost about $7.50. Pie-ology plans open a second location this summer at the Irvine Spectrum Center.
Pie-ology founder Carl Chang said he’s not surprised by the Blaze concept.
“I think there are several well capitalized people in the food industry trying to enter the custom pizza space with similar concepts partly because of our success at Pieology,” Chang said. “Hopefully, at the end of the day we are the people’s choice.”
Blaze is set to open July 1.
Address: 4255 Campus Dr., #A120
-Story by Jaryd Lucero/Staff writer The Orange County Register