Stepping into Blaze Pizza feels instinctively familiar.
The setup is fairly common, seen in the dining rooms of restaurants like Chipotle or Piada: Stand in line, watch through a glass as uniformed workers build your dish by your specific instructions and check out with a meal. However, the heat, glow and distinct smell of pizza wafting from of the 535-degree fire-oven makes Blaze Pizza unlike other lunch spots on campus.
Ohio State students and Columbus residents can enjoy 11-inch personal pizzas prepared and cooked to order at Blaze’s newest location, found in the heart of the university district at 1708 N. High St.
Blaze Pizza is celebrating its campus storefront’s Thursday opening by offering free pizzas all day to those who stop in to eat on Friday after “liking” one of their social media accounts.
Alongside salads and desserts, Blaze has a “build your own pizza” option, offering a full topping bar with different styles of sauces, cheeses, meat and veggies toppings arranged on a thin crust pizza dough.
The pies cook in less than three minutes, and can be as simple or complex as the diner desires, with all toppings at no additional cost.
As Blaze Pizza continues to open locations across the country, the general response has been positive, marketing director Darla Bowen said.
“People are pretty excited. It’s a concept that’s new, so first-time guests don’t know what to expect,” Bowen said. “(Blaze Pizza) isn’t a traditional pizza experience.”
Diners also have a spread of “signature pizza” recipes available to choose from, featuring topping combinations that were developed by critically-acclaimed pizza chef Brad Kent.
At the end of the long line during Blaze’s soft opening earlier this week, Gabriel Boyle, a fourth-year in neuroscience, and Hilary Horsman, a fourth-year in international studies and Korean, waited to try crafting their own pizzas for lunch.
“(Blaze) gives the opportunity to not get something covered in grease,” Boyle said. “Or you can choose how greasy you want it.”
“It’s a lot bigger than I expected, and a lot busier,” Horsman added.
For late-night bar hopping or study sessions, Columbus’ Blaze Pizza will feature extended hours on the weekend: Open from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m. on Thursdays and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, while it closes at 10 a.m. on other weekdays.