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New pizza shop in Merced County offering free pizza today!

pvidela@bradenton.com

You can get free pizza today at Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza in Los Banos.

The LeBron James-backed pizza chain opened Thursday at 1335 W. Pacheco Blvd., in front of Hobby Lobby and next to MattressFirm.

Today, Blaze will give out one free pizza to any customer who shows he or she is following or liking the restaurant on any social media account, according to city officials.

Blaze cooks made-to-order pizzas in the style of establishments like Chipotle, said Stacy Souza Elms, the Los Banos Community and Economic Development director.

After customers tell Blaze staff what ingredients they want on their pizza, the pie is thrust into an oven in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit so it cooks fast, according to Blaze's website.

Souza Elms said the new pizza chain will be something “a bit different” for the community, describing Blaze as a “fast casual” dining option.

“They are also offering a healthy food choice, with all ingredients being fresh,” she said.

According to Forbes, industry consultancy Technomic confirmed that Blaze is the fastest growing restaurant chain ever, going from two pizza shops in southern California to more than 200 locations in five years. NBA superstar LeBron James is a co-owner, franchisee and paid endorser for the chain.

The Los Banos location is opening in a shopping center that has recently been showing growth, Souza Elms said, noting that the center was supposed to be built out by now, but slowed due to the recession.

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