Hey, Phoenix. We're Getting Another Pizza Chain — But It's Okay, Because It's Backed By LeBron James

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I bet you thought there's no way metro Phoenix can support another fast-casual pizza restaurant where diners can — gasp! — customize their own pizza pies by selecting ingredients from a list before sending their creation through a super-sized, really hot Easy Bake oven. "We've already got plenty of places for sub-$10 pizzas covered in a questionably cohesive selection of vegetables," you thought. "There's no way we actually need more." 

But you're wrong.

Or at least, you're wrong according to the folks behind Blaze Pizza, a California-based fast-casual pizza chain with more than 100 locations from coast to coast. And we're not here to question your pizza authority or anything, but since the people behind this particular pizza chain include professional basketball player and low-key Instagram creep LeBron Raymone James, you're probably, pretty much definitely, wrong. 

Because when King James says, "Phoenix, you need more personal pizzas," you shut up and take the pizza. 

Bron Bron and friends — other celebrity Blaze Pizza backers include Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner, Maria Shriver, and Patrick Schwarzenegger — will open the first Blaze Pizza location in Arizona on Thursday, April 14 in Tempe. The restaurant will be located at 105 West University Drive, not far from the Arizona State University campus, and will offer seating for more than 100 diners inside, in addition to a 24-seat patio. 

Blaze Pizza also plans to open restaurants in Tucson near the University of Arizona campus (5601 East Broadway Boulevard, Tucson), in Central Phoenix (5120 North Central Avenue), and in Avondale before the end of 2016. And don't worry, Northwest Valley residents, The L-Train didn't forget about you. Blaze Pizza also plans to open a location in Glendale next year, specifically at 7870 West Bell Road. 

If you've ever been to a pizza restaurant, you can probably picture how Blaze Pizza works. You can choose your pizza toppings from a list of "fresh, artisanal ingredients," then watch as "dedicated pizzasmiths" also watch the pizza cook in a giant oven for 180 seconds. The pizza dough is made fresh daily and ferments for 24 hours, as prescribed in a recipe from "critically acclaimed" Executive Chef Bradford Kent, aka the “Pizza Whisperer," according to a press release. Blaze also offers a gluten-free crust and vegan cheese — and the Tempe restaurant will feature a selection of wine and draft beer.

To celebrate Blaze Pizza's first Arizona location, the restaurant is giving out, you guessed it, free pizza. On Friday, April 15 from 10:30 a.m. to midnight, anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook can get a free pie. 

The Arizona locations of Blaze Pizza will be locally owned and operated by BZ Pizza LLC, a franchise group developing Blaze Pizza in the state. The company was founded in 2012 by Elise and Rick Wetzel, co-founder of Wetzel’s Pretzels. For more information, visit the Blaze Pizza website

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