Pizza Chain Relocates to Georgia Amid California’s Fast-Food Challenges

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 10, 2024

Blaze Pizza has decided to move its corporate headquarters from Southern California to Georgia. This move is aimed at fueling its “next wave of growth,” leveraging Georgia’s robust economic growth, which saw an annualized GDP increase of 11.8% in April 2024.

Meanwhile, California’s GDP growth lagged behind at 3.8% during the same period.

Impact on Employees

Blaze reassures that its 7,500 restaurant-level employees will largely remain unaffected by the move.

An unemployed woman in a gray suit holds a cardboard sign that reads “Need a Job”

Source: Freepik

The company mentioned that only a small number of non-remote corporate employees are being offered relocation opportunities, ensuring minimal disruption to its workforce.

California’s Economic Challenges

Blaze’s relocation highlights broader economic challenges in California’s fast-food sector. Recently, Rubio’s announced the closure of 48 California stores, resulting in the loss of around 1,250 jobs.

A close-up of a green stock market graph.

Source: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

These closures follow the implementation of a $20 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers, which has significantly impacted the industry.

Advertising Backlash

The California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) took a bold step by running a full-page advertisement in USA Today, criticizing the new minimum wage law.


The ad, styled as an obituary, pointed out the adverse effects on businesses, including Blaze’s competitors like Mod Pizza and Pizza Hut, both of which are facing significant layoffs and closures.

CABIA President’s Concerns

Tom Manzo, president of CABIA, voiced his concerns: “You can only charge so much for a Big Mac. Business owners are either selling, not expanding in California, or they’re going out of business.”

Exterior of a McDonald’s restaurant at night

Source: McDonald’s Wiki

His comments reflect the growing frustration among business owners in the state.

'Limited' Franchise Opportunities in California

Blaze Pizza’s franchise website lists California as having “limited availability” for new franchises.

Blaze pizza restaurant

Source: Blaze

In contrast, other states are marked with “inquire today,” suggesting a strategic shift in expansion plans away from California’s challenging business environment.


Healthcare Minimum Wage Delayed

California’s economic issues are not limited to the fast food sector. Last year, a $25 per hour minimum wage for healthcare workers was approved, set to phase in at $23 per hour on June 1.

A young woman sits with her back to the camera while a doctor smiles and makes notes on her chart

Source: nortonrx/Getty Images

However, due to a $7 billion state deficit, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on May 31 to delay this wage increase, citing its $4 billion first-year cost.


Small Businesses Feel the Pressure

While small businesses are not directly subject to the fast food minimum wage law, they face indirect pressure to raise wages to compete for the same labor pool.

A sign in a window that reads “Sorry, We’re Closed”

Source: Freepik

This competitive wage environment has made it increasingly difficult for many small businesses to sustain operations in California.


Fast Food Industry Exodus

Blaze Pizza’s move to Georgia is part of a larger trend of fast food businesses exiting California.

Rubio's drink and food overlaid on top of LA

Source: Alek Leckszas/Wikipedia; Rubio's/Instagram

As economic policies in the state become more challenging, companies are looking for more favorable conditions elsewhere to sustain and grow their operations.


Future of Blaze Pizza in Georgia

With its headquarters now in Georgia, Blaze Pizza aims to capitalize on the state’s strong economic growth and business-friendly environment.

Atlanta, Georgia, at night. There are high-rise buildings throughout the city lit up.

Source: Kyle Sudu/Unsplash

The relocation is expected to support the company’s future expansion plans and operational efficiencies.


Impact on California’s Economy

The departure of companies like Blaze Pizza raises concerns about the long-term economic impact on California.

11 Alarming Reasons Why California's Wealthy Are Fleeing the State

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Hawk/Flickr

As more businesses leave, the state may face increasing difficulties in maintaining a robust job market and economic stability.


Looking Ahead

Blaze Pizza’s move to Georgia marks a significant shift in the fast food industry’s landscape.

Gavin Newsom with his face turned to the side.

Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As businesses continue to navigate economic challenges, the future will reveal how such relocations will shape the industry and regional economies.