Blaze Pizza today announced the appointment of Rod Lucio as vice president of Real Estate. In this role, Lucio will spearhead the company's real estate development and acquisition, bringing Blaze Pizza franchises to markets across the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Denver and Boston.

With more than 20 years of corporate real estate experience, Lucio has been directly involved with the opening of more than 220 restaurants including locations for Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonalds and Panda Express. After joining Chipotle in March of 2006 as manager of West Coast Development, Lucio was charged with expanding the concept into long-distance travel sites and West Coast malls, and played a significant role in its west regional expansion.

At Panda Restaurant Group, Lucio served as real estate manager and was responsible for new site growth from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border.

"Rod is an incredibly valuable addition to the Blaze Pizza team," said Elise Wetzel, president of Blaze Pizza. "We're looking forward to leveraging his real estate experience to help us secure 'best in class' locations, and provide opportunities for franchisees to open their own Blaze Pizza restaurants across the country."

Lucio joins a rapidly expanding corporate team at Blaze Pizza, which has located its headquarters in Pasadena, Calif. A creation of Elise and Rick Wetzel (founder of Wetzel's Pretzels), Blaze Pizza is registered to sell franchises in 34 states and is looking to partner with experienced restaurant operators to support the company's aggressive expansion efforts.

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