Blaze Pizza Heads to Atlanta Amid California's Employment Cost Debate

 June 10, 2024

Pasadena-based Blaze Pizza is relocating its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia.

Triggered by California's recent surge in the minimum wage to $20 an hour, Blaze Pizza cites lower corporate taxes and operational costs in Georgia as key motivators for the move.

According to Daily Mail, the 330-chain establishment, which operates across 38 states and six countries, views this transition as an opportunity to spur "the next wave of growth," according to CEO Beto Guajardo. This strategic shift aims to enhance the brand's expansion while maintaining its foundational ties to California.

Industry Reaction to Wage Increase

In light of California's new wage policies, enacted on April 1, 2024, various fast-food chains have reported significant job cuts. Nearly 10,000 positions have been eliminated by giants like Pizza Hut and Burger King as they struggle with heightened operational costs.

The heightened wage structure, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last September, has caused a stir among business communities, with some relocating to more economically favorable states. Neutrogena, QuickFee, Oak View Group, and Unical Aviation have similarly moved their bases out of California.

Beto Guajardo reflected on the move, stating, "California is where this brand was born more than a decade ago, and we have tremendous heart for communities across the state where so many of our restaurants are." He emphasized that the headquarters shift is a growth strategy and does not affect the chain's commitment to California.

Adaptations and Responses to Economic Shifts

The impact of the wage increase has been profound, with some business owners increasing automation to cope with rising costs. Harsh Ghai, a Burger King franchisee, has accelerated the deployment of digital kiosks to manage labor expenses more effectively.

An advertisement campaign featuring mock 'obituaries' for popular brands was launched to underscore businesses' challenges with the increased wage mandate. This creative protest illustrates the perceived threat to business viability posed by the new law.

Tom Manzo, president and founder of the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA), has been vocal about what he views as a hostile environment for businesses in California.

California businesses have been under total attack and total assault for years. It's just another law that puts businesses in further jeopardy. What business owners are doing is either they’re selling, they’re not expanding in California — they have expansion plans in different in states — or they’re going out of business. You can only raise prices so much, and you're seeing it. People are not going to pay $20 for a Big Mac. It's not going to happen.

Despite the corporate exodus, Governor Newsom defends the minimum wage increase as a step toward fairer compensation for fast food workers. "California is getting one step closer to fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving hardworking fast food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table," he stated.

This headquarters move by Blaze Pizza sets a noteworthy example of how businesses are navigating the new economic landscape in California. With the company's roots deeply planted in California soil, the decision underscores a broader narrative of balancing growth with operational sustainability.


Blaze Pizza's relocation is reflective of a larger trend where businesses adjust their strategies and geographical footprints to align with economic realities. This pattern is evidenced by job cuts within the state and the relocation of companies to regions with more supportive business climates. As the economic impacts of these shifts unfold, the dialogue between business needs and worker welfare continues to be a pivotal point for California's legislative and economic landscape.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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