A PIZZA chain backed by basketball star LeBron James has been named the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the US.
Blaze Pizza grew sales 205% over the prior year, the largest gain of any restaurant chain measured in the 2016 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.
The boom is due, in part, to LeBron taking a more hands-on approach to his investment.
The 32-year-old even went to work at a Blaze Pizza location in Los Angeles, serving customers as new employee “Ron.”
In a new commercial for the 105-location chain, “Ron” jokes with customers, as they eye the 6-foot-8 basketball superstar helping prepare pizzas with a strange sense of déjà vu.
“I’m shadowing,” LeBron assures the customers. “A really tall shadow.”
“This move aligns with LeBron’s brand and his history of helping companies grow faster and bigger as an equity partner,” James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, told ESPN of the deal.
Unlike at many other chains, at Blaze Pizza, the pizzas are made fresh in front of customers’ eyes.
Employees make the dough by hand, and allow it to rise for 24 hours before serving.
Then, customers build their own pizzas, picking from seven cheeses, eight proteins, 20 vegetables, and three sauces.
The pies are placed in an extremely hot stone-hearth oven, which takes just three minutes to cook the pie.