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Blaze Pizza to make first international move

Blaze Pizza to make first international move

Fast-casual pizza chain plans at least 60 restaurants in Canada

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza has signed a franchise agreement with Five Star Blaze Holdings Inc. to open at least 60 restaurants in Canada, marking the fast-casual chain’s first international move, the company said Friday.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based operator said Five Star Blaze Holdings will open units in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The franchise group is led by Robert Baxter, Blair Walker and Darven Erickson.

Five Star Blaze Holdings is a subsidiary of Cypress Five Star LLC, a large franchise operator of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, with 41 restaurants in Canada. Two more Five Guys units are operated in Wyoming through an affiliate.

“We’ve already introduced fast-casual burgers to Canada and are excited to do the same with fast-casual pizza,” Baxter said in a statement.

Jim Mizes, Blaze’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement: “This is our first international deal, so we were very careful to select the right franchise partner. We feel that Cypress Five Star has the proven track record, financial capital and local Canadian market knowledge necessary to execute the Blaze Pizza brand to our high standards.”

In December, Blaze Pizza became the first fast-casual pizza chain to pass the 50-unit mark. Others in the competitive segment, such as Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.-based Pieology, are not far behind.

Blaze officials expect the chain’s 100th unit to open this year, and estimate that a Blaze Pizza unit opens every five days on average.

Blaze is not the first fast-casual pizza brand to go international. Carlsbad, Calif.-based Project Pie has at least eight units in the Philippines. In October, it announced a development agreement with Niall Howard, formerly CEO of fine-dining chain Hakkasan, and franchise group The Canavan Co. U.K. Ltd. to bring 60 units of the fast-casual pizza chain to the U.K. and Ireland over the next decade.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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