Blaze moves beyond US with biggest deal ever, announces minority owner
After officially becoming the fastest-growing brand in U.S. historyearlier this week, Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza today said it's moving beyond North American borders for the first time, building 100 restaurants in 11 Middle Eastern and northern Africa countries, starting next year. The chain, which won this year's Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers, signed an exclusive development agreement with Kuwait-based M.H. Alshaya Co. to build restaurants in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco and five other nation's in the region, a news release said.
This is the brand's largest development deal and begins next year with opening of the first five of the 100 locations, these in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
"Blaze Pizza is a very exciting and disruptive brand that fits nicely into our restaurant portfolio alongside Starbucks and Shake Shack," M.H. Alshaya Company Executive Chairman Mohammad Alshaya, said in the release. "With its simple approach to fast, authentic, customizable pizza, we see a tremendous opportunity to build Blaze into the dominant pizza brand in the Middle East and throughout the region."
Blaze co-founder Rick Wetzel added, "There is really only one 'best way' to take your brand overseas and that is to partner with Alshaya. For some time, we've been receiving requests to bring our brand to the Middle East. Now that we've partnered with Alshaya, we're happy to say that we will be there soon."
Blaze has new investor
Brentwood Associates, consumer-focused private equity investment firm, today announced that it has made a significant non-controlling investment in Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza. Concurrent with the transaction, Blaze Pizza has added Bill Barnum, Rahul Aggarwal and Greg Dollarhyde to its board of directors. Barnum is co-founder and partner at Brentwood, and Aggarwal is a partner at Brentwood. Blaze represents the sixth investment in the restaurant industry for Brentwood, including three owned California-based concepts Lazy Dog Restaurants, Pacific Catch and Veggie Grill. They are joined on the board by Dollarhyde, who has served as the chairman or CEO of eight different companies, including former Brentwood portfolio company Zoës Kitchen.
Earlier this week, the chain opened its 200th location in Mentor, Ohio, with plans for 400 more restaurants worldwide. The sites under Alshaya's agreement include both traditional restaurants and delivery-only locations.