Wednesday, June 5, 2024

[ALERT] Blaze Pizza Moving From Hollywood to Y'allywood

Blaze Pizza has announced what we heard rumored last year: the company's headquarters are moving from southern California to metro Atlanta.  In announcing the move, the "build your own pizza" company indicated it expects the relocation to be complete by September but did not identify an exact office location.

Founded in Pasadena in 2011 by Elise and Rick Wetzel of Wetzel's Pretzels, Blaze entered metro Atlanta in 2017 with a location at the corner of Clairmont and North Decatur Roads near Decatur.  The pizza franchise currently has six locations open in Georgia with at least one, planned for a new development in Statesboro, coming soon.  

Current Blaze locations in Georgia include those at Akers Mill Square, 17th Street, Decatur, Buford, Brunswick and Valdosta.  At six going on seven locations, Georgia is currently a very minor part of the chain's roughly 300 unit footprint.  Nearly 100 of the chain's stores are located in California.  A source close to Blaze told ToNeTo Atlanta earlier this year that plans call for Atlanta to be home to multiple corporate stores in the years to come.  There are currently just 12 corporately run units, none in Georgia.  

Insiders told ToNeTo Atlanta of the likelihood of a potential Atlanta relocation soon after Beto Guajardo was named CEO of  Blaze Pizza in January 2023.   Guajardo, who before Blaze had spent nearly three years in Atlanta as President, Focus Brands International (now known as Go To Foods), was said to be fond of Atlanta with interest in remaining local.  

Metro Atlanta will be the headquarters for operations, business development, marketing, finance, human resources and other departments, according to a release announcing the move.  Most of Blaze’s 60 corporate employees will remain remote, with a “small percentage” of Southern California-based workers offered the opportunity to relocate to metro Atlanta, the release added. 

“California is where this brand was born more than a decade ago, and we have a tremendous heart for communities across the state where so many of our restaurants are,” CEO Beto Guajardo said in a statement. “Moving our corporate headquarters to Atlanta will help us drive our next wave of growth.”

The pizza chain counts four-time NBA Champion LeBron James as both an investor and multi-unit franchisee in the brand.  

Your Pie, a rival pizza chain, got its start in Athens in 2008 and is today headquartered in Alpharetta.  The smaller chain has a more regional presence with about 20 units in Georgia and about 70 overall.  

Blaze joins a growing list of restaurant brands that have in recent months and years either moved to or announced a move to metro Atlanta for primary or secondary headquarters.  

Papa John's, which got its start in Louisville, moved its headquarters to metro Atlanta in 2021.  The company made the announcement in 2020 about a year after former Arby's President and Atlanta resident Rob Lynch was named the company's President & CEO.  (Lynch was hired to be Shake Shack's new CEO this past March but we have yet to hear chatter that Lynch plans to push for the New York chain to relocate its headquarters to metro Atlanta.)  

Established in Statesboro and most recently based in Athens, Zaxby's in February celebrated the opening of its new corporate headquarters at Perimeter Summit in Brookhaven.  Smalls Sliders, Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux and Krispy Krunchy Chicken have also moved significant home office functions to metro Atlanta in recent months.   

The aforementioned chains join established Atlanta businesses such as Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe, in addition to Go To Foods and Inspire Brands, both multi-unit restaurant portfolio companies controlled by Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group. 

Are you a fan of Blaze Pizza?  If Blaze Pizza continues to expand locally, where would you like to see them open?  Who do you think makes the best "build your own" pizza?

Please share your thoughts below.  


BigRedDogATL said...

Atlanta has become the Fast Foods HQ city, especially when you include Coca-Colas world HQ here.

Cities like Detroit are know for the Automotive industry, Charlotte for the banking industry, New York for the stock market, and Houston for the oil industry, so …………. Atlanta for junk food.

Anonymous said...

nah dawg. Columbus, OH the real mvp. Atlanta will (d)evolve to Fatlanta when the golden arches finally set foot over here. Until then, Atlanta just a suburban mall food court in wannabe Hollywould.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ June 5, 2024 at 2:01 PM said: Atlanta will (d)evolve to Fatlanta

I no longer have 20/20 vision, but I'm pretty sure Atlanta surpassed that point a couple of decades ago.

Anonymous said...

Atlanta is like LA for ugly, poor people.

Anonymous said...

and you live here

Anonymous said...

I do? News to me.

Anonymous said...

Who’s fat? What?

Anonymous said...

LA is losing population. Atlanta, on the other hand, has been the 3rd fastest-growing metro (behind Dallas and Houston) for the past 30 years.

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