Selling affordable pizza is suddenly becoming even more competitive. The next generation of fast food pizza restaurants are popping up across the country, all of them taking aim at the old guard in the business such as Domino’s Pizza (DPZ), Yum! Brands’ (YUM) Pizza Hut and Papa John's (PZZA). Upstarts like Chipotle's (CMG) Pizzeria Locale and Buffalo Wild Wings' (BWLD) PizzRev are doing things a little differently than their better known rivals, such as focusing on providing better ingredient quality, more exotic pies and speedier dine-in service. One of the largest from the crop of next generation fast food pizza joints is Blaze Pizza. Headquartered in Pasadena, CA. the company has grown from two U.S. locations in 2012 to 89 today. By the end of the year, Blaze Pizza will be near 100 restaurants in some 28 states. Overall system-wide sales are projected to reach just over $100 million in 2015, up from $33 million in 2014. According to the company, same-restaurant sales have risen by double-digit percentages in both the first and second quarters, and importantly the chain is profitable. Says Blaze Pizza COO Jim Mizes to TheStreet, ‘What Blaze Pizza is exploiting is pizza for lunch, higher quality artisanal pizzas that you could make down the line in three minutes, then into the oven, and before you know it you have your drink and pizza.’ Next on the plate of Mizes is overseeing an aggressive rollout of new restaurants in 2016.
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