LeBron James is already one of the most iconic athletes of all-time. He’s arguably the best basketball player of his generation — possibly ever. Now, James has even more on his plate. Though he’s on the back end of his NBA career, he’s an old man of 34 years old, he has a lot more planned for the future.
One of his recent business ventures involves one of the few things Americans love even more than sports: pizza. Americans clearly love pizza. In fact, the average American will eat roughly 46 slices of pizza in a single year.
According to LiveKindly, Blaze Pizza, the popular vegan-friendly pizza chain backed by James, is planning on increasing its reach to 500 restaurant locations in the near future. Currently, Blaze Pizza operates more than 300 restaurants in 42 states and five countries, taking on major pizza giants like Domino’s.
The chain is looking for an initial public offering (IPO) within the next two years, as well.
“It remains on our horizon,” said Blaze Pizza co-founder Rick Wetzel. “We want to get to about 500-plus restaurants. We want to build the second leg for the business.”
Founded in 2011, the fast-casual upstart offers 14-inch pizza deals for online orders across the country in order to compete with major pizza chains. Additionally, 11-inch pizzas are offered for personal consumption.
“It’s Chipotle-style where you go down the line and build your pizza as you like it,” said Dennis Sherer, Blaze’s operating partner. “Our claim to fame, though, is to get that thing cooked in 180 seconds, so three minutes and you’re ready to go.”
The pizza chain is gaining some serious momentum across the business sector, as well. In fact, in 2017, Forbes report that Blaze Pizza was the fastest-growing restaurant chain in history. Of course LeBron’s name is attached to something that successful.
The company’s system sales, a metric that includes money generated from organizational and franchised locations, increased 23% last year to $341.5 million.
“We’ve got a more modern offering,” added Elise Wetzel, co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We’re going after those larger players.”