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FDD Talk 2015: The Blaze Pizza Franchise Opportunity (Financial Performance Analysis, Estimated Costs, and Other Important Stuff You Need to Know)

by Franchise Chatter on May 13, 2015

in Fast Casual Restaurant Franchise, FDD Talk 2017: Food Franchises, Franchise Earnings, Pizza Franchises

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6-20-14 BLAZE01

In this FDD Talk 2015 post, you’ll learn the following:

  • Section I – Background information on the Blaze Pizza franchise opportunity, including relevant news updates
  • Section II – Estimated initial investment for a Blaze Pizza franchise, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD
  • Section III – Presentation and analysis of Blaze Pizza’s financial performance representations, based on Item 19 of the company’s 2015 FDD, including information on the:
  • 2014 average gross sales for the 9 franchised and 1 company-owned Blaze Pizza Restaurants that had been in operation for at least 1 calendar year ending December 31, 2014
  • 2014 average gross sales for the 2 Blaze Pizza Restaurants that were open for at least 2 years as of December 31, 2014, as well as their year-over-year growth from the first 12 months of operation to the second 12 months of operation
  • 2014 total cost of food and beverages as a percentage of annual gross sales for the company-owned Restaurant
  • 2014 total cost of hourly crew labor as a percentage of annual gross sales for the company-owned Restaurant

Section I – Background Information

Fast-Fire’d Custom Built Artisanal Pizzas – that’s the tag line of Blaze Pizza, a relative newcomer to the new fast-casual pizza segment. That segment in and of itself is also still relatively new. There are an estimated 73,000 pizza restaurants in the U.S., but only around 200 can be considered as fast casual.

In 2011, Rick Wetzel, a co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels, and his wife Elise were looking around for fast-casual pizza and were surprised to not find anything. In 2012, they decided to remedy this situation by starting Blaze Pizza.

They relied heavily on executive chef Bradford Kent to come up with the recipes. It became the first of the new fast-casual pizza chains to hit 50 locations at the end of 2014.

Similar to other down-the-line franchises (such as Chipotle for burritos and Subway for sandwiches), customers watch their pizza being assembled as they choose the toppings before it goes into the oven.

Based in Pasadena, California, and headed by president and COO Jim Mizes, here’s how this chain is blazing a new trail in the pizza segment:

The Many Choices We Make

Kent perfected an 11-inch thin crust from dough that is allowed to ferment a full 24 hours before it gets shaped into a pizza crust, which is what gives the pies their signature light-as-air crispness. Patrons then choose from among 7 cheeses, 8 proteins, 20 vegetables, and 3 sauces.

Rapid Rise (And I Don’t Mean the Dough)

In addition to being the first fast-casual pizza chain to surpass the 50-location milestone, Blaze Pizza wants to keep that momentum burning as bright as its pizza ovens. The chain is hoping to not only open 70 restaurants in 2015, it claims to have commitments for 333 more through 2019.

Wetzel says his vision for Blaze is nothing short of making it the Starbucks of pizza. Of course, Starbucks has 12,000 locations in the U.S. (21,000 worldwide), so Blaze has a long ways to go. Shooting for 500 locations by 2020 is ambition enough for the time being.

Hot Stuff

Blaze Pizza’s oven dome temperature can reach upward of 900F, while the floor temperature typically ranges from 600F to 800F.

It’s skilled work — and each pizzasmith manning their ovens is specially trained in how to properly rotate pizzas through these different heat zones. They may make it look easy, but “fast-fire’d” crust takes a lot of know-how.

Eco-conscious Choices

As the company’s FAQ page states: “…the restaurant has gone to great lengths to see that almost all of its packaging is made in the USA from post-consumer recycled and/or sustainable materials. Forks, knives, cups, lids – even those cute little containers that hold the salad dressing – were specifically chosen because they left a smaller footprint than most other available choices.”

Celebrity backing

Blaze has managed to attract a number of celebrities who not only enjoy the chain’s products, but have invested money into it, including NBA star LeBron James, the former first lady of California Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner, and movie producer John Davis.

Section II – Estimated Costs

  • Please click here for detailed estimates of Blaze Pizza franchise costs, based on Item 7 of the company’s 2015 FDD (updated).

Section III – Financial Performance Representations (Item 19, 2015 FDD) and Analysis

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