Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza will open its first Chicago location at 953 W. Belmont Avenue today. To celebrate the grand opening, Blaze Pizza will offer free build-your-own artisanal pizzas to its Facebook fans on Friday, from 10 a.m. until midnight.

"Chicagoans love pizza, but they really don't have a good way to enjoy a quality pie without the wait," said Brad Kent, executive chef of Blaze Pizza. "Blaze Pizza is all about letting folks enjoy custom-built artisanal pizzas at freakishly fast speed. It's a concept I'm thrilled to lend my expertise to."

The company has developed a turnkey in-restaurant fundraiser program that returns 20 percent of an event's proceeds back to local organizations, and hopes to partner with local schools, sports clubs and other local organizations to host fundraising events at the new restaurant.

Blaze Pizza is being developed in the Chicago area by Levy Family Partners under a 15-store franchise development agreement. Levy Family Partners was established by entrepreneur Larry Levy, founder and chairman of Levy Restaurants, as the holding company for his family's investments in restaurants, hotels, real estate and other ventures.

Two other Blaze Pizza restaurants are currently in development at 555 W. Madison Street (at Presidential Towers) and 227 E. Ontario Street (between Lake Shore and Michigan Avenue).

Read more about franchising and growth.

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