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Coachella Valley

Experience or Click?

Experience or Click?



Written by: Michael Braun, Grit Development

Remember when we “strolled” through the newspaper looking for that written treasure in the midst of beautiful pictures advertising brands and events? Memorizing the content to use in conversations at home or at work.  Being upset, if we could not recollect key sections.  The introduction of the “iPhone” (smartphone), e-mail, and social media changed all that overnight.  Everything can now be organized on one small device to be shared immediately and pulled up anytime.  But do we understand the content anymore or is it just fleeting as we get bombarded with Internet ads, new e-mail content and more articles we constantly save but never read?

Sitting in a cafe in Europe on a family vacation enjoying a coffee and reading a newspaper in print made me realize what I have been missing these past few years; Taking time to read and absorb.  While I enjoy reading the New York Times, my three teenagers are jailed in their Snapchat, Instagram or other social media apps experiencing enhanced pictures or short videos giving them a glimpse of what they might miss back home. Who has the more meaningful experience?  The couple in the latest iPhone ad sharing their favorite song streamed via iPhone and wireless headphones into their brains or the couple at the Staples Center, COACHELLA festival or theater enjoying “live” music in a beautiful setting. An experience the Internet or any technology device will never be able to offer.

Technology gives us more time, extends our memory and the iPhone acts as our new “companion” to help with daily tasks. The “companion” organizes us, reminds us and gives us the feeling of “belonging” as random people like our posts or congratulate us on posted articles we found strolling through the Internet. But did they really even read it?

Life is about experiencing things, feeling them, and creating memorable events. Our brains are built for chemical reactions triggered by visual and live experiences, touching humans or products.  There is no doubt technology is here to stay, however, there is also no doubt brick and mortar, printed books, newspapers, music events and other experiences are enjoying an unexpected Renaissance.  Newspapers especially will benefit from a sudden recognition that “truth” is a thing again. I call it regression to the mean.

Touring Versailles in Paris with my daughter, I witnessed visitors willing to stand 3 hours in line to enjoy a 25-minute walk through the palace using their smartphones to create selfie memories of rooms and statues, pictures they could have downloaded for free on the internet.

Real Estate Developers must reinvent themselves to bring engaging and memorable experiences to their properties.  Efficiencies are now the new 'norm', booking a restaurant on OpenTable in a few seconds, review and book a hotel via Expedia and of course the proclaimed Retail future “Alexa” from Amazon, however, the actual experience will never be replaced by technology. Amazon and Walmart will become the sole stores for everything we think we need in one place at one “Prime” click. The meaningful social experience of restaurants, bars, customized boutique stores simply connecting with qualified sales staff, enjoying life with family and friends or touring culture will only be found in the real and not virtual or augmented world we are learning to live in.

Michael Braun -

Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza Announces Grand Opening of New Coachella Valley Location

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 20, 2017) - Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, the fast-casual artisanal pizza concept known for its chef-driven menu and casually hip restaurants, announced today that it will open a new Coachella Valley location, in Palm Springs, on Friday, March 24th. To celebrate the grand opening, the Palm Springs restaurant will offer FREE build-your-own artisanal pizzas on Monday, March 27th from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. to anyone who follows Blaze Pizza on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. The highly anticipated restaurant, which features a 2,800 square foot interior with seating for 72 and an additional 56 seats on an outdoor patio, is located at 201 N. Palm Canyon Drive, at the corner of Andreas Road. This will be the seventh franchised Blaze location that veteran operators Rick Fortman and Joe Stein have opened in the Inland Empire, including a location in Palm Desert and Riverside Plaza.

Blaze Pizza is a modern day "pizza joint" serving up artisanal pizzas that are both fast and affordable. Since its first restaurant debuted in 2012, Blaze has quickly become one of the nation's hottest restaurant concepts, with fans lining up each day for the custom-built pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s'more pies. Each restaurant features an interactive open-kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu's signature pizzas or create their own, choosing from a wide selection of fresh, artisanal ingredients -- all for about $8. The generously-sized personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven -- the centerpiece of the restaurant -- where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are fast-fire'd and ready to eat in just 180 seconds. Restaurants make their own dough from scratch using a recipe developed by critically-acclaimed Executive Chef Bradford Kent (the "Pizza Whisperer"), which requires a 24-hour fermentation period to produce his signature light-as-air, crisp crust. Almost all of the pizza and salad ingredients are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and fillers and for pizza fans with specific dietary needs, Blaze Pizza offers gluten-free dough and vegan cheese. The new Palm Springs restaurant will also feature a selection of wine and draft beer.

"Our mission at Blaze is really simple -- we're taking pizza back to its roots," said Jim Mizes, president & COO of Blaze Pizza. "By making dough in-house, carefully sourcing ingredients, and cooking by fire, we're giving guests a great way to enjoy artisanal pizza without the wait. It's changing the way people think about and eat pizza." 

Blaze's obsessive attention to detail extends well beyond the food, with a carefully considered, modern approach to restaurant design. Driven by its commitment to "Intelligent Choices for Our Pizzas, People & Planet," the restaurant is constructed with recycled and sustainable materials, uses eco-friendly packaging, and features energy-efficient LED lighting. Additionally, many of the restaurant's unconventional design elements were inspired by the company's celebration of individual expression.

Blaze Pizza is looking forward to continuing to build strong roots within the community. To that end, the company has developed a turn-key in-restaurant fundraiser program that returns 20% of an event's proceeds back to local organizations, and will be partnering with local schools, sports clubs and other organizations to host fundraising events at the new restaurant.

About Blaze Pizza
The first Blaze Pizza® restaurant opened on Aug. 6, 2012, in Irvine, Calif., and quickly gained attention for its chef-driven recipes, thoughtful interior design, and a service culture that celebrates individuality. Now ranked as the overall #2 fast-casual brand in's annual Top 100 list, Blaze Pizza is building momentum and developing a cult-like following as it expands across the country. The company currently operates 182 restaurants in 32 states and Canada, including the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Boston. Founded by Elise and Rick Wetzel (co-founder of Wetzel's Pretzels), the concept is backed by investors including LeBron James, Maria Shriver, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Boston Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner and movie producer John Davis. For more information, please visit and or click here to view a company video.