The California-style pizza brand California Pizza Kitchen expands its franchise presence | Global Franchise
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Friday 1st July, 2022

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The California-style pizza brand California Pizza Kitchen expands its franchise presence

Case Study

The California-style pizza brand California Pizza Kitchen expands its franchise presence

California Pizza Kitchen’s long-awaited domestic franchise program kicks off in 2022

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In December 2021 as many restaurant brands were looking back on a difficult year for the industry, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) was moving forward, full speed ahead with the launch of its first-ever domestic franchise program. For 35 years, CPK has been recognized as the creative, California-inspired pizza brand with a diverse menu of innovative pizzas, pastas and salads made with high quality, fresh ingredients and unexpected flavor combinations. The company’s plan to bring its California cuisine to more domestic markets comes nearly two years after its intended launch.

“We’ve been eagerly waiting for the right time to launch our domestic franchise program following our successful franchise growth in international markets,” said Giorgio Minardi, CPK’s executive vice president of global development & franchise operations. “CPK originally planned to launch much sooner, but unfortunately the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shifted our plans. We’re excited to finally communicate to prospective franchisee partners that we’re open for new business.” With CPK sales reaching pre-COVID performance levels, the brand is extremely optimistic about 2022 and sees tremendous new growth opportunity in franchise expansion.

Own a piece of California

California Pizza Kitchen envisions partnering with passionate and experienced franchisee operators who embrace its California forward ethos. The brand is looking forward to finding partners who can bring extensive franchise experience to the table, in addition to working together to bring CPK’s imaginative and globally inclusive menu to guests in new and existing markets. CPK’s goals are to sign on at least two domestic franchise partners in 2022 and is seeking prospective partners in priority regions across the United States including the Northwest, North Central, Northeast, Southeast, and South Central. The Southwest corner remains reserved for company-owned locations. There has been pent up consumer demand for restaurant locations in markets that do not currently have a California Pizza Kitchen, and a huge opportunity for franchisees to gain market share.

“We’re looking for expert franchisees to join us and help bring CPK’s legendary California cuisine to more guests,” says Minardi. “Our location and flexible design ensure partners are providing quality service and excellent culinary experiences in each market.”

Part of CPK’s franchise mission includes offering best-in-class training and development in all aspects of the business. Franchisees can expect flexibility in location, design layout, menu category and daypart offering. CPK offers a variety of footprint types including: The Flagship, an approximately 5,800 sq. ft. or larger space for full-service dining with extended bar, outdoor patio, and a full menu; and the Standard, a 4,800 sq. ft. or larger space for full-service dining with a counter bar and full menu. A limited group of franchisees might qualify for a kiosk or express size locations. These are limited and not available in all areas. the Kiosk, an 850 sq. ft. or larger quick service, grab-and-go option with a limited menu and seating typically found in malls, business plazas, and parks; and the Express, a 750 sq. ft. concession-style counter service best for stadium and university locations.

Innovation: The California state of mind

As seen with many restaurants across the globe, there was a shift in demand from dine-in to takeout options, due to COVID-19. CPK saw its off-premise business grow significantly during the pandemic – off-premise sales grew from 22 per cent pre-COVID to 40 per cent as of Q4 2021. The brand achieved this by offering contactless curbside delivery, new take home products including its popular “Take & Bake” pizzas (fresh to order, par-baked pizzas perfect for experiencing CPK at home), and increasing its digital investment to ensure a first-class online ordering experience.

While the California-based brand continues to focus on its franchise expansion, overall business growth remains a top priority with elevated investments in marketing strategies. The brand has increased its paid media investment in the Southern California market with plans to expand into Arizona, Florida and the mid-Atlantic regions. Through multi-year agreements, CPK has bolstered its relationships with blue-chip sports teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Ducks. To date the brand has 16 domestic franchise locations in airports, casinos, and stadiums in the United States.

California Pizza Kitchen anticipates opening 10 to 12 new locations, mostly franchised, in 2022 and plans to triple those annual goals by 2025.

“There’s tremendous opportunity to accelerate our business growth in these new regions,” said Minardi. “We’ve received several standout partner applications already and can’t wait to bring the California-inspired mindset and experience to guests around the country with the right partners.”

At a Glance California Pizza Kitchen

Year established: 1985
Number of franchised outlets: 44
Total Locations: Over 200 restaurants in 8 countries and U.S. territories
Initial working capital minimum: $100,000; Commitment to open a minimum of 3-5 restaurants in the first 5 years of partnership.
Contact: Stephanie Mendoza,

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