CPK Turns 30 in LA, and it Still Looks Marvelous, Thanks to a Little Work

img_4870Angelenos already know how lucky we are, with our perfect climate and trend-setting lifestyle, and our pizza.  Yes, our pizza, as Los Angeles is home to the very first California Pizza Kitchen, which first opened its doors on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills in 1985.


In a town where restaurants are often a flash in the pan, CPK owes its staying power to its unique take on a traditional favorite dish, pizza that is, and its constant reinvention of itself.  As the chain celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it continues to offer its famed signature pizzas, like the BBQ Chicken pizza and Hawaiian style pizza with pineapple and ham, and its to-die for butter cake dessert, along with new classics, like Thai Chicken and Spicy Chipotle Chicken.  As they have been for the past three decades, all of the CPK pizza crusts are created from dough that is proofed, then hand-tossed three feet into the air and finished with freshly sliced, diced and torn toppings before they are baked in the open hearth oven.


Despite the fact CPK is a chain, the restaurant has managed to keep its menu fresh with regular new offerings, as always incorporating the latest trends in California cuisine. Their current reimagined menu features unique flavor combinations and fresh seasonal ingredients like the Harvest Kale Salad and the Sunnyside Up Bacon + Potato Pizza. The main plates add distinctly upscale options like Fire Grilled Ribeye, fresh cut in Merced, CA and Hearth Roasted Halibut, caught sustainably from the Aleutian Islands.


And perfect for the LA power luncher, CPK offers New Lunch Duos with more than 80 made-to-order pairing combinations of 7” pizzas, sandwiches, soups and salads. For all of those picky eaters with  real or imagined specific dietary needs, CPK also has options that are under 650 calories, vegetarian/vegan or gluten free.


Part of the fun of eating at CPK, besides the inventive menu, is the open kitchen where diners can watch their dough being tossed into the air and their meal prepared before their eyes.  There is just an extra feeling of assurance when you can actually see your meal being made in front of you, rather than out of sight in a kitchen hidden away from view.


In addition to constant renovations of the menu, the company is also currently renovating the décor at select CPK restaurants nationwide. Locally in L.A., the first-ever CPK on Beverly Drive, the CPK in  Westwood, and the CPK at Burbank Town Center have been transformed already, with more restaurants to follow this year.  The restaurants’ new look spurns the traditional “chain” look with walls, tables and doors made from reclaimed wood, counter tops of natural stone, artwork of local landmarks and living herb gardens designed to lend a “warm, rustic and natural feel. “


For those who truly lover their CPK, a new commemorative cookbook, “Taste of the Seasons,’’ is available from the restaurant, featuring a collection of restaurant-style recipes featuring imaginative ideas from each season’s harvest, that customers can make at home.


While the chain’s first venture into the restaurant-sphere was in LA, they continue to expand nationwide, and their anniversary is being observed at their locations across the country.

“CPK is resetting the stage for the next 30 years and we are calling this plan our ‘Next Chapter’,” said California Pizza Kitchen Executive Chairman and CEO G.J. Hart. “We have over 280 restaurants in 208 cities and 15 countries around the world, and this plan takes the best of our heritage, history and soul and infuses it with a new look, a new menu and a new experience.”