Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the fast-casual pizza chain, announced it will soon be entering the Chicago market with three new locations. Born and raised in California, Blaze Pizza has begun to expand beyond its Los Angeles base and is preparing now to bring its fast and affordable pizzas to the Chicago area.

“It’s a light, crispy custom-built pizza that sells for less than eight bucks—and it only takes a couple of minutes to cook,” says Steve Florsheim, managing partner of Levy Family Partners. “We’ve seen the popularity of this concept in Los Angeles and think that Chicago will flip for this too.”

Blaze Pizza is being developed in the Chicago area by Levy Family Partners under a 15-store franchise development agreement. Levy Family Partners was established by entrepreneur Larry Levy, founder and chairman of Levy Restaurants, as the holding company for his family’s investments in restaurants, hotels, real estate, and other ventures. The first three Chicago area restaurants are located at 953 W. Belmont Ave., 555 W. Madison St., and 227 E. Ontario St. The Belmont restaurant is scheduled to open in December, and the other two are scheduled for early 2014.

Blaze Pizza uses an interactive assembly line format that allows guests to create their own custom pizzas quickly, each for less than $8.00. Every Blaze Pizza restaurant makes its own dough using a recipe that requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce its signature crisp crust. Guests watch as each dough ball is pressed into an 11-inch crust.  Next, they travel down the service line to co-create” a signature pizza or design one of their own, choosing from over 40 sauces, veggies, and a variety of meats and cheeses.  Pizzas are fired in a blazing-hot oven and ready in 180 seconds. Blaze Pizza’s menu also features salads, lemonades, craft beer and wine, and house-made S’more Pies. For pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.  The prototypical store is 2,400 square feet with seating for about 60 guests.

“We were inspired to create a fast-casual pizza concept that offers exceptional quality at freakishly fast speed,” says Jim Mizes, president and COO of Blaze Pizza. “If you think about it, there really hasn’t been a good way to enjoy a quality pizza without the wait. Now there is. We believe this will be a game-changer.”

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, News, Pizza, Blaze Pizza