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Blaze Pizza gains a foothold during first month in downtown Evanston

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Blaze Pizza gains a foothold during first month in downtown Evanston

Graphic by Alexis Praeger and Rebecca Savransky/The Daily Northwestern

Graphic by Alexis Praeger and Rebecca Savransky/The Daily Northwestern

Graphic by Alexis Praeger and Rebecca Savransky/The Daily Northwestern

Lydia Ramsey, Reporter

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Since it opened last month, Blaze Pizza appears to have quickly won over the hearts of Northwestern students and Evanston residents alike.

The restaurant, in which customers watch workers assemble and cook their pizzas within a matter of minutes, often has a line out the door at night and on weekends.

The easy setup draws in college students and millennials, making Evanston a logical place to open the eatery, said owner Adam Cummis. Cummis owns six Blaze Pizza franchises in the Chicago area — including one he plans to open in Niles in a couple of weeks — and three others in south Florida.

Blaze Pizza is spread throughout the Chicago area, including just off Michigan Avenue near NU’s and University of Chicago’s downtown campuses, and on Belmont Avenue, drawing a number of DePaul University students.

“College students and millennials, in general, are anxious to play around with the foods that they’re eating,” Cummis said. “They love the value perception that’s there as well as the speed of their pizza.”

The option to specialize the pizza is already something that stands out to NU students.

“I like how you can see your pizza being made and you can customize it with whatever you want,” said Weinberg freshman Clay Davis.

Even in Chicago, a city known for its deep­-dish pizza, the chain holds up well because it adds the opportunity to have pizza for a quick meal, Cummis said.

“If you think about it, how often did you get pizza for lunch?” he said. “There’s a time investment required.”

NU students have excitedly embraced Blaze Pizza. If anything, its operations is too small for some students who hope to dine in.

“Many people would stay if they could. But a lot of the times I go there, there isn’t enough seating so I have to take it home and eat it there,” McCormick freshman Chinedu Okoroafor said. “That’s fine and all, but I live 15 minutes away and (the pizza) gets kind of cold by then.”

Cummis said he hopes to build up relationships with the Evanston community through advertising profit­sharing initiatives and participating in local events.

How it works:

Once you make it through the line, you’re greeted by a “Pizza’olo,” an employee who will assist you in choosing sauce, cheese and toppings.

Your pizza then gets sent to an oven set at 800 degrees. The oven, along with the crust recipe, lets the pizza cook in less than 180 seconds, Cummis said. From there, a “Pizzasmith” is in charge of preparing the pizza and adding extra pesto or arugula at the customer’s request.

Cummis suggests a customer choose five to six different ingredients that satisfy his or her palate. His current go-­to? A pizza with classic sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, grilled chicken, spinach and red onion.

Helen Lee contributed reporting.

Email: lydiaramsey2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @lydiaramsey125

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