California-based, fast-fired pizza chain Blaze Pizza has now opened over 200 locations nationwide, dubbed the “fastest-growing casual restaurant in the country” by Forbes. Here’s the secret: catering to the millennial audience.
In honor of the new location’s opening at 961 Commonwealth Ave., Blaze offered free slices of pizza to anyone following the company on social media. There was a line of BU students “out the door” in order to take advantage of this promotion, according to Megan Ryan, the director of marketing and community relations for Blaze’s franchise partner BGR Hospitality.
Ryan explained that Blaze’s social media presence is an important part of the company’s communication efforts toward millennials.
“I think social media has really helped because millennials in general love customization,” Ryan said. “We love things fast, we love things our way. We’re able to spread the word through social media because that’s how we communicate.”
Jamal Bourote, president of BGR Hospitality, said that it is primarily the younger generation of millennials and college students who are contributing to Blaze’s increasing popularity.
“Blaze Pizza is a great concept and it connects really well with the younger groups, and they’re the ones that are spreading the word all over social media,” he said.
Ryan said that the decision to open a fourth Boston location on the Boston University campus has been in the works for about a year.
“We already were seeing a lot of BU students come over to Fenway and we’ve known since we started the franchise group when opening our first location last year that we wanted to be even closer to BU,” Ryan said.
There are several steps involved in the process of opening up a new restaurant location, including the leasing process, permitting, design, layout and the hiring and training process, Bourote said.
But the concept of Blaze is quick, easily customizable pizza that requires only three minutes to cook in an 800-degree oven. Customers can order an individual 12-inch pizza, customize their order with unlimited sauces, meats, cheese and veggies and receive their order for a price of around eight dollars.
“What’s unique about Blaze is that you can customize your pizza however you want,” Ryan said. “We’re all about individuality.”
Josh Levitt, a public relations specialist with Blaze Pizza, wrote in an email that Blaze does have plans to open up more locations in the Boston area. By the end of this year, the chain expects to have locations in Burlington and Nashua.
Blaze’s ultimate goal, Levitt wrote, is to build the “next great brand” that people view as a destination to hang out, rather than just a restaurant.