California Pizza Kitchen

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California Pizza Kitchen, Inc.
Industry Food and beverage
Genre American Cuisine
Founded 1985; 30 years ago (1985)
Founder Richard ("Rick") L. Rosenfeld and Larry S. Flax
Headquarters Los Angeles, California,
United States
Area served
United States, Mexico, South America, Asia-Pacific region, Western Asia
Key people
G.J. Hart, CEO
Products Pizzas, pastas, salads, small plates and desserts
Services Polished casual dining restaurant
Revenue $555 million (2006)[1]
$21 million (2006)[1]
Number of employees
14,800 (2007)[1]

California Pizza Kitchen, known within the food industry as CPK, is a polished casual dining restaurant chain that specializes in California-style pizza. The restaurant was started in 1985 by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax in Beverly Hills, California, United States.[2]


The Ocean Terminal, Hong Kong location at Christmastime
A California Club pizza from CPK
A new California Pizza Kitchen in Stamford, Connecticut

The chain is widely known for its innovative and nontraditional pizzas, such as the "Original BBQ Chicken Pizza", BLT, Thai Chicken, and Jamaican Jerk Chicken pizzas. They also serve various kinds of pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts. They have an extensive children's menu for children ages 10 and under which includes a variety of different pizzas, pastas, salad and chicken.

Launching in 2014, CPK debuted introduction of their Next Chapter locations. Focused on sustainability and "seeking the unique," Next Chapter locations boast reclaimed wood, natural stone counter tops and herb gardens. A newly reimagined menu introduces specialty hand-tossed pizzas, main plate offerings, seasonal features, hand-crafted cocktails and more.[3]

The chain has over 200 locations in 32 US states and 13 other countries, including 17 California Pizza Kitchen nontraditional, franchise concepts designed for airports, universities and stadiums.[4] The company licensed its name to Kraft Foods to distribute a line of premium frozen pizzas, in 2000.[1]Nestlé purchased Kraft's pizza lines in 2010.


In 1985, Flax and Rosenfield pooled $200,000 in bank loans and savings along with $350,000 invested from friends to lease space on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, California. The first menu, including the famous BBQ Chicken Pizza, was developed by Ed LaDou, then the pizza chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant. CPK became an immediate success, and the company expanded throughout Southern California. By 1992, there were 26 CPKs.[5]

In 1992, PepsiCo paid nearly $100 million for 67 percent of the chain, with Flax and Rosenfield each receiving $17.5 million. At the time this was thought to be more than CPK was worth, and PepsiCo pushed to expand faster. CPK opened 15 stores in 1993 and 28 in the following year, a plan which was a disaster. PepsiCo had invested tens of millions of dollars and quickly slowed expansion and moved to cut costs. PepsiCo executives had started cutting corners by replacing fresh ingredients with frozen vegetables and cheese (a change Flax and Rosenfield reversed later).[5]

In 1997, the private equity firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Company bought out PepsiCo’s two-thirds stake with the intention of taking CPK public in 2000, pushing for expansion to resume. Veteran restaurant executive Fred Hipp was hired to run CPK with an aggressive expansion plan including 18 new stores in 2002, 22 in 2003, and 28 in 2004. The expansion was to be carried out by former Brinker International vice president, Tom Jenneman, under the title of Chief Development Officer. Flax and Rosenfield remained on the board but had no day-to-day control.[5]

In early 2003, CPK reported a 16 percent increase in profits, with Hipp telling analysts that CPK was in excellent financial condition. In a March 25, 2003 press release CPK cut its first-quarter earnings estimates, which didn’t make sense given the positive forecast laid out just a few weeks earlier. Rosenfield investigated the numbers and discovered the positive earnings numbers Hipp had been touting were masking difficult quarters ahead. An emergency board meeting was called, Hipp and Jenneman were fired, and Flax and Rosenfield resumed control of CPK.[5]

On July 7, 2011, CPK was acquired by an affiliate of private equity firm Golden Gate Capital.[6][7] On August 18, 2011, G.J. Hart was named President, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman.[8]

Business interests[edit]

In 2015, CPK announced their official partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, aiding in granting "wishes" to children with life-threatening medical conditions[2] Furthermore, in the past few years CPK has introduced a new line of hand-tossed style, crispy thin crust, gluten-free crust and small pizzas that are available in supermarkets.[9] People can now search recipes from the menu to cook at home, or buy CPK branded items in a supermarket.

CPK has partnered with the Gluten-Free Food Service Certification program to serve a line of Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) certified gluten-free pizzas, available across all CPK locations—excluding franchise locations.[10] To ensure the quality of the pizzas, every CPK location will be held to an audit score of 85% or higher to receive a passing grade.[11] Gluten-free crust will be available for all pizzas for $2. However, due to kitchen space, only the pizzas listed on their separate Gluten-Free menu can be prepared using Gig's certified procedures.[12][13]

Countries of operation[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Joe Bramhall. "California Pizza Kitchen". Hoovers. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  2. ^ a b "About CPK". California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. Retrieved 21 June 2012.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "CPK_Info_Page" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d Lacter, Mark (August 2008). "Second Helping: How the two guys who founded California Pizza Kitchen kept their unlikely partnership—and their company—alive". Los Angeles magazine. pp. 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124. 
  6. ^ "CPK - FAQs". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  7. ^ Press Release: California Pizza Kitchen to Be Acquired by Golden Gate Capital; Stockholders to Receive $18.50 in Cash Per Share
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Broadway World". Broadway World. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Brand Channel". Brand Channel. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 

External links[edit]