Today's Special: Fast-casual pizza chain backed by LeBron coming to Champaign

Today's Special: Fast-casual pizza chain backed by LeBron coming to Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — A pizza chain that counts NBA superstar LeBron James and former NBC News anchor Maria Shriver among its investors is coming to Champaign's north side.

Blaze Pizza is under construction at 2506 N. Prospect Ave., in front of the Champaign Walmart.

Brittney Kozlowski, manager of the chain's closet location in Normal, describes Blaze's product as "a hand-crafted artisan pizza."

"Our pizzas are 11 inches in size, and we use all fresh ingredients," she said. "Everything is fired in an oven in 180 seconds."

Kozlowski said the fresh ingredients and stone-hearth oven make the product taste better. Blaze Pizza makes its dough by hand and lets it rise for 24 hours before serving.

Customers build crispy, thin-crust pizzas choosing from seven cheeses, 20 vegetables, three sauces and eight proteins.

The crew then puts the pizzas in the stone-hearth oven.

The restaurant was the mastermind of Rick and Elise Wetzel, the same people who founded Wetzel's Pretzels. Its website is

The company hasn't announced when the Champaign restaurant will open.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (2):Food, Restaurants

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Orbiter wrote on December 14, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Crazy... what on Earth makes anyone think we need yet ANOTHER pizza joint?  We have numerous fine pizzerias, from Antica to PapaDels to Giordano's, and all the big chains too.  This is a dopey idea.  Why not some Greek?  Why not some Middle Eastern?  Peruvian?  Brazilian?  Algerian?  Polish?  Ukrainian?  Turkish?  Angolan?  Colombian?  Swedish?  So tired of nothing but burgers and Chinese and pizza in this area!!!

shurstrike wrote on December 14, 2017 at 10:12 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong - and I could be - but no one's forcing you to go, nor preventing you FROM going.

If you want a Greek restaurant - and I do to - why not open one?  Or a Brazilian one?  Or a Turkish one?  Anonymous complaints on social media won't accomplish anything.

johnny wrote on December 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Cuban certainly would be nice.

DaPaign217 wrote on December 14, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Boooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I hopes it fails miserably just likes LeBum James will in the playoffs this year! Makin' me angry grumble grumble!

TomBradyGOAT69 wrote on December 15, 2017 at 4:12 pm

You are just a schmuck and a hater! Lebron succeeds at every single thing he does! I guarantee it will be better food than Pandi da Express! Shut yo piehole ya jerk in da box!