Business

LeBron James-backed Blaze Pizza to open near Cal Poly

Blaze Pizza will open to the public Thursday, May 5, 2016, in University Square in San Luis Obispo near Cal Poly. Several other businesses have opened in the complex as well.
Blaze Pizza will open to the public Thursday, May 5, 2016, in University Square in San Luis Obispo near Cal Poly. Several other businesses have opened in the complex as well. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Blaze Pizza, an artisanal pizza restaurant backed by basketball superstar LeBron James, opens Thursday in the University Square shopping center near Cal Poly. The development is now fully leased with nearly all of its tenants open for business.

Blaze Pizza is one of several new businesses in the 5.6-acre center, at Santa Rosa Street and Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo.

Other newly opened businesses include Milestone Tavern Bar and Grill (which opened Wednesday), @Nails, Supercuts, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins and Rite Aid.

Several businesses have stayed put: Club 24 fitness club, Golden 1 Credit Union, Domino’s Pizza, Pita Pit and University Barber Shop.

Scout Coffee Co., Raku Ramen, Deli Delicious and Premier Valley Bank are slated to open within the next couple of months.

All of the existing tenant buildings in the shopping center were remodeled, said developer Nick Tompkins, who owns the center. The parking lot, parking lot lighting and landscaping were also revamped.

Blaze Pizza is a fast-casual restaurant that serves custom-built pizzas, salads, drinks and dessert.

The San Luis Obispo location is the sixth store for franchise owners Dan Kane, Andrew Barnett, Martha Olmos and Mitch Wolf. Wolf is a marketing instructor at Cal Poly and used to own the Taco Bell restaurants in San Luis Obispo, where Olmos acted as the chief operating officer.

The franchise owners plan to open 20 stores in a nine-county area of the Central Coast and Central Valley.

Blaze Pizza is next to Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins in a 2,400-square-foot building that offers seating for 52; an additional 42 seats are on the outside patio. The San Luis Obispo location will serve wine and draft beer.

The restaurant is built with recycled and sustainable materials, uses eco-friendly packaging and has energy-efficient LED lighting. It offers a fundraiser program that returns a percentage of an event’s proceeds back to local organizations.

The San Luis Obispo location has a staff of about 50 — about six to eight employees work full-time and the rest are part-time, Wolf said. He declined to disclose financial information about the business.

The business partners are always looking for locations to open new restaurants, Wolf said, adding that he’s keeping an eye on space in Paso Robles.

To celebrate the store’s grand opening, the San Luis Obispo restaurant will offer free custom pizzas from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

The first Blaze Pizza restaurant opened in August 2012 in Irvine. The company now operates 127 restaurants in 28 states and Canada, according to a company news release.

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