Wind­sor’s first Blaze Pizza draws crowds

Free of­fer sees al­most 1,000 pies fly­ing out door of Cal­i­for­nia chain’s diner

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - TAY­LOR CAMP­BELL tcamp­bell@post­media.com

Sali­vat­ing Wind­sorites ate for free Fri­day at a new south Wind­sor pizza joint.

Blaze Pizza, a Cal­i­for­nia-based chain, cel­e­brated the open­ing of its 650 Divi­sion Road lo­ca­tion by of­fer­ing free pizza to any­one who fol­lowed its so­cial me­dia ac­counts. In 11 hours, al­most 1,000 free­bie pies flew out the door. “We’ve got great-look­ing piz­zas go­ing out, and our staff are get­ting plenty of prac­tice,” said Ja­son Huang, di­rec­tor of train­ing for the fran­chise group in charge of Wind­sor’s lo­ca­tion, just south of Devon­shire Mall. Mod­elled af­ter the fast, ca­sual restau­rant style of Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill, Blaze Pizza lets cus­tomers choose from var­i­ous sauces, top­pings and cheeses, and to then have the pizza built right in front of them. The “fast-fire’d,” open-flame oven cooks the pies in about three min­utes.

“We do want to change the way peo­ple think about and eat pizza,” Huang said. He added the cus­tom­iz­a­ble op­tions, quick cook­ing time, and fresh dough made in-house set Blaze apart.

About a dozen of Blaze’s 50 em­ploy­ees worked at light­ning speed be­hind the counter dur­ing Fri­day’s launch to keep up with an ever-grow­ing line of cus­tomers. Sev­eral rolled dough non-stop, while oth­ers spread sauce and placed top­pings. The sin­gle baker shouted “hot!” each time he slid a pizza from the oven onto a board for his col­leagues to slice into six even pieces. An­other em­ployee bal­anced a stack of 20 empty pizza boxes in his arms, ready to re­plen­ish the dwin­dling sup­ply up front. In ad­di­tion to the cre­ate-yourown pizza choices, the restau­rant pro­vides sin­gle- and dou­ble­top­ping op­tions, as well as eight sig­na­ture recipes cre­ated by the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tive chef. “We are very happy to be here,” Huang said. “We’re glad to be part of the com­mu­nity, and we want to help grow the com­mu­nity and see this busi­ness thrive and the busi­nesses around us thrive. We’re here, we aren’t go­ing any­where, and hope­fully peo­ple come by and try our pizza.” Cus­tomers filled out their or­ders on small menu sheets while they waited to avoid back­ups, keep­ing the line of about 30 peo­ple in con­stant mo­tion. Ev­ery minute or so, an­other per­son walked out the door with a big grin and a pizza box. There are about 300 Blaze Piz­zas in op­er­a­tion. Cur­rently, the restau­rant serves Canada, the U.S., Kuwait, Saudi Ara­bia and Bahrain.

NICK BRAN­CAC­CIO

Gen­eral man­ager Faiz Sheikh proudly dis­plays two sig­na­ture piz­zas at Blaze Pizza on Fri­day when it was of­fer­ing free pizza to any­one who vis­ited the new Divi­sion Road lo­ca­tion.

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