Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza is cleverly building its social media following with some delicious, cheese-bubbling bribery.
The Los Angeles-based fast-casual pizza concept will open its first Dallas-Fort Worth location Friday, and will give away a free pizza to any guest who follows the brand’s main three social media accounts, indicating the increasing importance of those platforms in building brands.
“Show us on your phone that you follow Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and get your very own custom-built artisanal pizza,” the restaurant informed customers in pre-opening events this week.
The offer is only valid on Friday, and only at the sole Frisco, Texas, restaurant, which is being developed by the Saddles Blazin LLC franchise group, which has another unit in New Orleans and development rights to most of Texas, except for a section of southern Houston, and all of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The social media giveaway aims directly at Blaze Pizza’s target audience of Millennials, a spokeswoman said, with strategy of creating social buzz and drawing a large first-day audience as the brand enters the new market.
The build-your-own-pizza chain also appeals to Millennials as employees, said Greg Hazard, a principal of Saddles Blazin and also chief operating officer of Pensacola, Fla.-based Paradigm Investment Group, a franchisee of the Hardee’s and Jersey Mike’s brands.
Nation’s Restaurant News toured the new Blaze Pizza restaurant in Frisco, which is the 66th unit of the growing chain. Hazard said the interaction between guests and the staff who build pizzas makes jobs at Blaze appealing to younger employees.
“That interaction between the customers and employees is really attractive for the Millennial workers,” Hazard said.
The new Frisco, Texas, unit is in an outdoor shopping mall that includes such retail neighbors as Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Best Buy, Super Target, Old Navy and Chili’s Grill & Bar. It covers 3,375 square feet, and seats 82 diners inside and 32 customers on the patio.
Hazard said he considered the open Wood Stone oven, which bakes pizzas made with the brand’s specially developed dough in three minutes, the centerpiece of restaurant, although large murals and assorted and movable tables and seating are also highlights. The 11-inch pizzas range in price from $5 for a basic pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, to $7.95 for build-your-own and signature options.
The menu also includes gluten-free dough and vegan cheeses.
“We make sure employees change their gloves and walk each gluten-free pizza through the entire process,” Hazard said.
The first Blaze Pizza opened in August 2012, in Irvine, Calif. The company now has restaurants in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Blaze Pizza was founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel, the co-founders of Wetzel’s Pretzels, and includes such investors as basketball player LeBron James, journalist and author Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis.
This story has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 22, 2015 An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of Blaze Pizza’s headquarters.