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Blaze Pizza opens near Northwestern

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza opened Thursday near Northwestern University in Evanston.

The restaurant at 1737 Sherman Ave. is the build-your-own pizza chain’s fifth Chicago-area restaurant.

The company’s assembly-line format lets customers choose which toppings to put on their 11-inch pizza, which is baked in an open-flame oven within 3 minutes. Blaze Pizza also has gluten-free dough and vegan cheese. The Evanston restaurant will have wine and craft beer too.

“Blaze Pizza delivers a customized pizza experience with the artisanal quality that Chicagoans have come to expect, but now without the wait,” said Larry Levy, founder of Levy Family Partners, the group developing Blaze Pizza in Chicago, and a Northwestern alum. “We believe this will be a game changer in town.”

The Evanston restaurant will offer free pizzas Friday to anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Blaze Pizza launched in Chicago in December 2013 with a restaurant at 953 W. Belmont Ave. Its other restaurants are at 227 E. Ontario St.; 24 S. Clinton St. and in Old Orchard Mall in Skokie. Levy Family Partners has a 15-store franchise agreement.

Blaze Pizza’s first restaurant opened in August 2012 in Irvine, California. The chain now has about 70 restaurants in 17 states.