Blaze Pizza opened on 34th Street and Lancaster Avenue Oct. 21, and offered one free pizza to every customer as a promotion and a way to let everyone sample their food. I walked over there after class with two friends, and we waited for over an hour in the cold before finally getting the chance to create our pizzas.
Was it worth the wait?
Yes. It was amazing getting to choose exactly what I wanted on my pizza, including ordering every possible variety of cheese while avoiding toppings that I don’t like. I got to watch them make my pizza and cook it right in front of me, and then of course eat it. It was a great experience. Judging by the talk around campus that day, everybody else thought so too.
And yet since that first weekend, I haven’t seen anybody carrying a Blaze Pizza box. It’s almost as though it vanished after its promotion was over. The more I think about it, the more problems I see with the restaurant.
Although Blaze also offers a salad menu, it is not well publicized. When approaching the counter, workers ask what kind of pizza you would like, without even mentioning the salads. This means Blaze barely caters to people who don’t like or aren’t in the mood for pizza. (I’ve never experienced this feeling myself, but I’ve heard it’s possible.) They only offer one pizza size, an 11-inch personal pizza, so the place doesn’t really work for people looking to share. And at $8.25 for a pizza, it’s more expensive than the typical $5 food truck lunch. In addition, it’s further from class buildings like Main Building, the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building and MacAlister Hall.
Those who want a more upscale Italian dining experience, for a date or when their family comes to visit, have Zavino. Zavino provides a classier sit down dining experience with more on the menu than just pizza. And those who just want quick, cheap food with minimal effort already have their favorite pizza delivery places close to campus, whether it’s Axis Pizza, Ed’s Pizza, or Pizza Wings Steaks.
Blaze Pizza occupies a strange kind of middle ground, where it’s a little bit too fancy to be a takeout place for people who don’t feel like cooking, but not fancy enough to be a sit down restaurant. While they do offer an order online option, it’s for collection only. Even though they do have seating for around 100 people — including a quieter upstairs room — the music, self service ordering and constant bustle of through traffic gives the restaurant the feel of a fast food chain.
The only thing that sets Blaze Pizza apart is the system of walking through line and creating your own pizza. This is awesome upon first experience, and I imagine that all pizza fans on campus will want to check it out at least a couple of times to test out different combinations. But before too long, finals will be upon us, people will be too busy to go out for food, and everyone will start to realize that pizza places have been offering “create your own pizza” for years.
Blaze Pizza makes excellent pizza, I’ll never deny that. However, beyond its initial novelty, I don’t really think there’s a place for it on a busy college campus like Drexel. I predict that before too long, we’ll see Blaze Pizza lose it’s fire.