If you happened to walk down Pardall Road in Isla Vista on Monday, you might have seen a hungry crowd of people lined up in front of Freebirds. What you might not have realized is that those people were not waiting to feast on Freebirds’ nachos or burritos. They were waiting for some food just around the corner that was literally “free.”
Blaze Pizza, which just opened in Isla Vista over the weekend, announced last week that pizzas would be free all day on Monday, March 10, for anyone who “liked” them on Facebook. After selling more than 650 pizzas on opening day alone, franchise group leader Chase Heller anticipated a hefty turnout for Monday’s free-pizza madness, and UCSB college students definitely did not disappoint his expectations.
Those who had not heard about the free pizza event, via friends or Facebook, rode their bikes to class and stared in awe at the static sea of people. Instead of getting impatient and going to Woodstock’s or Pizza My Heart, many people decided to wait it out and take a chance on the new pizza joint in town. With tons of pizza competition in Isla Vista, Blaze has to bring something a little different to the table to keep the customers coming.
“People don’t really get the same choices at other pizza places in I.V.,” he said. “And you can’t see the pizza made in front of you.” Blaze’s “build your own pizza” concept allows customers to pick out their own toppings from an assembly line of fresh ingredients. Next, the pizzas are fired in a “blazing” hot oven and ready to enjoy in about two-and-a-half minutes. All of this convenience for under $8 sounds too good to be true, but Blaze makes it happen.
Blaze’s simple menu features eight signature pizzas, two of which are vegetarian options. Although most customers go for the “build your own pizza” concept, the BBQ Chicken pizza is the most popular signature pizza. This customer favorite features chicken, mozzarella, red onion, banana peppers, Gorgonzola, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce. For veggie lovers, the Veg Out is a meatless pizza pie loaded with fresh veggies like mushrooms, zucchini, and red onion. Blaze even appeals to the gluten-free and vegan customers with gluten-free crust and vegan cheese substitutions. If you want a lighter meal, their menu also has six salad selections like the Roasted Veggie and Gorgonzola or the classic Chicken Caesar.
You can find Blaze around the corner from Freebirds, occupying the space that used to be Pastahouse. “This place was dead,” said Heller as he recalled living in Isla Vista and eating at Pastahouse. “And it was right next to Freebirds, where there were always people lined up around the corner.” As soon as Heller’s family had this franchise opportunity, he knew exactly where he wanted to start the business. Blaze in Isla Vista is just the first of 10 franchise locations that Heller and his family plan to open. In the future, they hope to branch out to locations such as Goleta, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and Camarillo. Other franchises already have Blaze restaurants up and running all over the country, with more opening very soon.
Blaze’s unique approach to pizza combines fresh ingredients and fast service, which is complementary to any lifestyle, whether you are a college student or busy parent. So if you are ever in a hurry and craving pizza with quality ingredients, check out a Blaze location near you.