LAKEVIEW — Late night revelers near the Belmont "L" stop may soon have another food option — Blaze Pizza, a California-based "fast casual" pizza chain.
The restaurant is planning to franchise 15 locations in the Chicago area, and the former Never Mind Clothing boutique location at 953 W. Belmont Ave. may be the first one, said Will Crowden, vice president of Baum Realty Group LLC, which is helping the chain scout Chicago locations.
Blaze Pizza — which aims to compete with higher end fast food chains such as Chipotle or Five Guys — offers build-your-own thin crust artisanal pizzas that are baked in two minutes.
The chain was started in 2011 by Elise and Rick Wetzel of mall soft pretzel chain Wetzel's Pretzels and is financially backed by journalist Maria Shriver, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and other wealthy investors.
The lease hasn't officially been signed on the Lakeview location, but "all indicators are pointing to 'all systems go,'" Crowden said.
The building at Sheffield and Belmont avenues caught fire last fall, and the Chicago Bagel Authority, Milios Hair Salon and Ultimate Exposure Tanning have yet to reopen. Never Mind moved to 3240 N. Clark St. after owner Jina Park decided the wait for her storefront to reopen was too long.
The Chicago Bagel Authority wrote on its Facebook wall Tuesday that the location at 955 W. Belmont Ave. should reopen at the beginning of July, with Milios opening soon after.
The landlord plans to rip everything out of the former Never Mind space and paint it white for the new tenant.
Blaze Pizza hopes to open for business in October, he said. And since it's close to the train stop and so many bars, it will likely stay open late, he said.
The chain offers gluten-free crust and pies for under $10, created by Chef Brad Kent.
With 14 more locations planned, other neighborhoods soon may see a Blaze on their streets, too. The pizza place is scouting in the Loop, Lincoln Park's Clybourn corridor, Lincoln Square and the South Loop, Crowden said.