Blaze Pizza exploring options for Santa Fe

Santa Fe Place owners are in talks with Blaze Pizza to try to bring the nation’s second-fastest growing restaurant chain to the south-side mall.

Spinosa Real Estate Group early in May placed an online notice mentioning Blaze Pizza.

“@BlazePizza is looking for an operators to manage a successful and fast-growing brand in Santa Fe Place Mall,” the notice reads. “Candidates must have restaurant and multi-unit operational experience.”

Andre Ivanchuk, Spinosa’s marketing director, acknowledged the Syracuse, N.Y., real estate company has had discussions with real estate officials at the Pasadena, Calif.-based Blaze Pizza to locate a restaurant at Santa Fe Place and the Mesilla Valley Mall in Las Cruces, which Spinosa also owns.

Blaze did not respond to interview requests from The New Mexican.

Blaze was founded in 2011 in southern California by Rick and Elise Wetzel, who also founded Wetzel’s Pretzels, and has grown to at least 314 eateries in 41 states coast-to-coast. But the New Mexico-to-Montana corridor is the last frontier for Blaze, which has only two stores in Albuquerque, none in Colorado and Wyoming and one in Billings, Mont., according to the Blaze Pizza website.

Nation’s Restaurant News in June 2018 ranked Blaze Pizza, also known as Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, the second-fastest growing restaurant chain with year-to-year sales growth of 50.8 percent.

Local credit unions make ‘Top 200 Healthiest’ list

Santa Fe-based Del Norte Credit Union was one of two New Mexico credit unions listed on the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions compiled by, a subsidiary of LendingTree.

Del Norte ranked No. 171, with Otero Federal Credit Union in Alamogordo ranked No. 25. derived the Top 200 from the nearly 5,500credit unions in the U.S. started tracking the health of financial institutions in 2010 in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. The entity evaluates the financial health of more than 10,000 banks and credit unions by grading them on a number of factors, including capitalization, deposit growth, and loan-to-reserve ratios.

“We are very conservative with our investments,” Del Norte CEO Chuck Valenti said. “We want to support our community by lending locally as opposed to making investments that are risky.”

Del Norte has six branches in Santa Fe, Española, Los Alamos and White Rock.

On a separate Top 200 Healthiest Banks list, had Western Heritage Bank in Las Cruces at No. 113 and Farmers & Stockmens Bank in Clayton at No. 115. is the largest and most comprehensive online publication in the U.S. dedicated to banking and deposits product information for consumers. LendingTree is a leading online loan marketplace.

Colo. firm takes $1.5M Tourism Santa Fe contract

A new $1.5 million advertising contract kicked in June 1 for Tourism Santa Fe with the Colorado-based advertising firm Vladimir Jones.

Vladimir Jones will provide integrated advertising and marketing services to build on Santa Fe’s “City Different” brand by attracting domestic leisure travel. Vladimir Jones has offices in Denver and Colorado Springs.

“We want to achieve a more exciting and up-to-date, current way of communicating what the City Different is and has to offer,” Tourism Santa Fe Executive Director Randy Randall said.

Tourism Santa Fe and Vladimir Jones entered into a one-year contract with options for three one-year renewals, Randall said. Tourism Santa Fe is the city’s convention and visitors bureau and also operates the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

“Many of us already knew and loved Santa Fe. Now we’re all-in,” said Meredith Vaughan, CEO of Vladimir Jones, in a news release. “We really believe in this brand, and we’re eager to share it with more people.”

Tourism Santa Fe has nearly twice the annual advertising budget from the $800,000 a year available the last time a request for proposals for an advertising agency was issued four years ago, Randall said.