Blaze Pizza Gets PE Investment From Brentwood
Blaze is one of several fast-casual custom pizza concepts to emerge in recent years, competing with the likes of MOD Pizza, Pie Five and PizzaRev.
The already fast-growing chain Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is poised to quicken its development pace following private-equity group Brentwood Associates’ announcement that it’s taken a “significant non-controlling investment” in the company.
The move by the Los Angeles-based group also puts two Brentwood partners, Bill Barnum and Rahul Aggarwal, on Blaze Pizza’s board of directors, along with industry veteran Greg Dollarhyde, who invested in Blaze alongside Brentwood through his Dollarhyde Investment Group. Dollarhyde formerly served as chairman or CEO of several fast-casual brands including Veggie Grill, Zoe’s Kitchen and Baja Fresh Mexican Grill. Also part of the Blaze news is that Paul Wachter, founder and CEO of financial and asset management firm Main Street Advisors in Los Angeles, will serve as a board observer. Wachter manages one of Blaze’s largest shareholder groups, which includes NBA star LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Tom Werner, and James’ business manger, Maverick Carter.
Since its first location opened in 2012 in Irvine, California, Blaze Pizza has grown to 200-plus restaurants in 32 states and Canada mainly through franchising. It’s one of several fast-casual custom pizza concepts to emerge in recent years, competing with the likes of MOD Pizza, Pie Five and PizzaRev.
Aggarwal noted the success of Blaze thus far has come as a result of its “scalable concept.”
“The Blaze team has done an amazing job growing to 200 restaurants in under five years,” said Aggarwal in a statement. “They have built a scalable concept with moats around their critically acclaimed chef, high-quality clean ingredients and aggressive brand-building strategies. We are excited to join the company and can't think of a better way to kick off investing our new fund.”
Blaze Pizza also recently announced expansion plans for the Middle East and Northern Africa following the signing of a development agreement with Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co. to build and operate 100 restaurants in 11 countries. The first five locations are scheduled to open in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in 2018.
“We are excited to add Brentwood and Dollarhyde to our investor group as they bring leadership, a network of connections and deep restaurant experience that will simply make us stronger and better,” said CEO Jim Mizes. Mizes, who has been with Blaze Pizza since 2013, will continue to lead the company. “As we transition from an emerging brand to an international high growth brand, I know Brentwood and our new board will help us build value for our shareholders, brand awareness across the globe and a great workplace for our team members and our franchisees.”
According to the company, Blaze is on pace to exceed $1 billion in annual systemwide sales by 2022.