The Golden State Warriors player expands his business interests into the restaurant world.
While James is one of the investors behind Blaze Pizza, the fastest growing restaurant chain in the country, Durant’s company, Durant Co., along with the player’s business partner Rich Kleiman, now owns a stake in the “make-your-own-pizza” chain. The company will also own several of Pieology’s franchises, according to ESPN.
“I went to one of them and saw how quickly they did it and was really impressed with the quality," Durant told ESPN.
Both Blaze Pizza and Pieology subscribe to the assembly-line model of fast casual dining, most notably popularized by Chipotle, but Durant doesn’t think of himself as in competition with the Cavaliers power forward—at least not when they’re off the court.
“This isn't about me versus LeBron," Durant explained. "I think we do have different interests and we handle things differently, but the respect for each other is there.”
Pieology CEO Carl Chang says his business is “still in the early stage,” but obviously a financial injection from such a recognizable and beloved athlete like Durant can go a long way in boosting a restaurant’s visibility.
Durant has endorsed food before—including a partnership with Orange Leaf Yogurt while he still played for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Strong and Kind campaign with Kind bars, although those deals have both dissolved by now. He most recently released his red velvet cupcake sneaker with Nike.
However, Durant’s investment in the pizza company doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be signing on as it’s spokesperson.
“Just because there's a deal with the Durant Co. doesn't mean you get automatically get Kevin Durant, the spokesperson," his business partner, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN, "but you do get Kevin Durant, the businessman."