Blaze Pizza Tackles Challenges With Innovation as Pizza Businesses Deal With Labor Shortages

The LeBron James backed company entered Texas in 2017, now they find themselves dealing with the product and labor issues that have plagued the food industry.

Credit: @snpshots via Twenty20

Since COVID-19 entered our lives, most of us have relied on fast-food restaurants and to-go food as we work to find a semblance of normalcy.


While 20% of parents say their families purchased fast food more often than before the pandemic, over 60% of fast-food owners said they had to close part of their dining rooms in August.

Looking at pizza specifically, The New York Times heralded pizza as the restaurant hero of 2020, noting that large chains Domino's and Papa John's growth roughly equated to the brands selling 30 million more cheese pizzas than in 2019.


Blaze Pizza in Texas


Blaze Pizza, with locations across 17 Texas cities and towns, has been in Texas since the LeBron James-backed company opened its doors in Frisco in 2017. Blaze, like many restaurants, has been forced to pivot food items, technology, and operations to meet the demands and needs of its customers.


In an article with Fast Casual, CEO and President Mandy Shaw detailed the organization's "recovery charge" as they head into a potential year three of COVID.

"The pandemic sparked new consumer behaviors and demands, but it really leaned in on the necessity of convenience," Shaw told Fast Casual. "With dining room closures across the nation, customers became accustomed to having a handful of reliable dining options, including takeout, third-party delivery and curbside pickup."

A "Pandemic Pizza Menu?"


To hone in on innovation and offer more variety to customers, Blaze has added items like Pesto Garlic Cheesy Bread, Blazin’ Hot Chicken, and Chipotle Ranch Chicken Pizza to their menu, according to the article from Fast Casual.


While new menu items certainly drum up excitement, the organization has also faced supply chain issues, as delivery of their products and certain key ingredients have slowed due to the pandemic.


“Re-establishing the full chain will still take some time, even through the first half of next year for all the sources to catch up and get back to normal staffing and reliable production and distribution," Shaw told Fast Casual. "At Blaze, we managed to successfully dodge many issues facing the competitive set by getting creative about how to fulfill our restaurants and franchise owners' needs. Having our core staple products on demand and a dedicated team of creative people that have remained on top of the supply chain disruptions has kept our outages limited and our shelves stocked.”


Shaw also noted that a large portion of Blaze's plans for the future involves revamping their external and internal technology components to enhance the operating experience for franchises. Such as, reimagining and designing the Blaze mobile app to bolster the customer ordering process.


"The last key component to our future will be a focus on technology. We're excited to launch a new mobile app this month, which has been redesigned to enhance our customer's ordering experience," Shaw told Fast Casual. "Consumers will get a faster and more intuitive way to re-order their Blaze favorites or create their own great-tasting pizza made exactly how they want."


With the new food items and a dedication to improving the employee and customer experience, Blaze is prepared to tackle the challenges all pizza businesses face as we slowly enter 2022.

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