Photo by edward duarte, courtesy of blaze pizza

Customers pick pizza toppings and wait for their pies by the register at Blaze Pizza. 

The blaze in Blaze Pizza (953 W. Belmont Ave., no phone yet), a counter-service spot planned for October, is all about speed. It's mostly a reference to the two-minute cooking time for each customer’s pizza, but it could just as easily mean the company’s expansion plans. “We are planning 15 in Chicago,” says Steve Florsheim, a partner.

With two locations already open in Southern California and more on the way in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and elsewhere in SoCal, Blaze is betting that people want a Chipotle-style approach to pizza. Customers walk down a line selecting sauces, cheeses, and toppings for thin-crust 11-inch pies, and at the end of the line, the pizzas bake in a brick oven for 120 seconds. The menu also includes eight different pre-formed pizzas, salads, and desserts such as a s’more pie baked in the pizza oven.

By our count, this is the eleven jillionth new restaurant that compares itself to Chipotle. What’s really blazing is restaurateurs’ ardor for customized fast food.