While Haslem didn’t put up the same numbers as Wade in the NBA, he was considered one of Heat’s pillars in each of its three title seasons (2006, 2012, 2013), known for his rebounding and overall tenacity on the court. More importantly, Haslem is a veteran of the franchising space, owning Subway, Auntie Anne’s, Starbucks, and Einstein Bros. locations separate from Forty-Three.
“I knew he was in that space; I knew he knew a little bit more than I did about the restaurant space, the franchising space, etc., and I’m always open to a good business opportunity if it makes sense,” Wade says. “This made sense for both of us to do something together off the court for the first time.”
As for what the former teammates’ 800 Degrees looks like, it looks quite a bit different than the rest of the concept. While chef Anthony Carron launched 800 Degrees at the height of the fast-casual pizza boom as a counter-service alternative with a higher-quality, wood-fired product, Wade and Haslem opted to open a full-service version of the concept, complete with full bar and expanded menu offerings. Their first location opened in Miami’s Aventura neighborhood in the fall of 2018.
“We thought about where the world is going and how we can change 800 Degrees to not being just like other brands, just like Blaze, which is kind of similar,” Wade says. “We wanted to have our own feel to 800 Degrees, and also just to grow with where the market is growing, as well.”
The idea, he adds, was that a full-service vibe and bar would create a more family-friendly atmosphere, and one that’s just as good for brunch and happy hour as it is a quick lunch. The business partners also expanded the menu with UD Chicken Wings (the moniker references Haslem’s nickname) and the DWade Burger. Those items have since been added to most of the other 800 Degrees locations.