Lebron James set Los Angeles ablaze when he hinted that he would appear at the Blaze Pizza in Culver City, California.
It was a simple tweet, and wasn’t even a guarantee, but Laker fans ran with it and waited in line for hours at the prospect of getting a glimpse of the NBA superstar.
Surely some of the line was for Blaze’s customers simply trying to get free pizza, as many others did at every Blaze location in Southern California, but the Culver City location was the only one that showed promise of Lebron’s presence.
As most know by now, Lebron did not show up to the pizza place. Instead, his wife posted a picture of James in a pool, chilling on a doughnut floatie, as frustrated fans went home with the Lakers’ shiny new toy nowhere in sight.
It is immediately apparent the impact Lebron James will have on the food haven that is L.A.
He hadn’t even officially been a Laker for a week, and had fans lined up outside of a pizza chain for hours.
Lebron has stake in Blaze Pizza, and with him as a spokesman, the franchise has become the fastest growing restaurant chain in U.S. history.
Let that sink in. It wasn’t just the fastest growing build-your-own-pizza shop, or fastest growing restaurant in a specific location; it was the fastest growing restaurant chain, PERIOD. That means it grew faster than McDonald’s, Chipotle, Subway, and any other major restaurant you can think of.
It’s no coincidence that Lebron’s shining star was a key to Blaze’s growth, as CEO Jim Mizes credited James as far as brand awareness is concerned.
Cleveland’s restaurant scene was positively impacted by James over the years, especially when returning to his hometown in 2014. When Lebron went back to play for the Cavaliers, the number of restaurants around Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers play, increased from 165 to 210, according to USA Today.
Cleveland restaurants banked on Lebron’s success, unabashedly having “game nights” and luring in customers by showing Cavs games on TV.
With James departing Cleveland, and the team being a little less attractive, those surrounding restaurants will obviously suffer in patronage. Now the focus will be on his new home.
The Los Angeles food scene will not hinge on Lebron in the same way that Cleveland’s did, but if the Blaze Pizza situation is any indication, he is going to leave his mark on the city’s dining culture.
There were fans who followed Lebron’s private jet from Cleveland to Los Angeles, so you can bet people will follow him to any of his go-to restaurants. I wouldn’t be surprised if people found ways to decipher what James delivered to his home.
If he makes his way to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, you bet your ass he’s going to have his own dish, and a picture on the wall.
What if he vouches for In-N-Out, or Philippe’s or even a random taco truck, will people suddenly flock there?
Who knows, but Los Angeles has at least four seasons to find out, and learn to eat like kings.