Is California Pizza Kitchen Actually Closing?

When California Pizza Kitchen, otherwise known as CPK, first ignited its pizza ovens in 1985, it wasn't your typical pizza joint. For one, its founders were former federal prosecutors living in Beverly Hills, a far cry from seasoned pizzaiolos with flour under their fingernails. Still, business partners Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax had a passion for pizza — and an idea to harness California's diverse agricultural offerings and apply them to an Italian classic.

Their idea took off. Since its inception, CPK has expanded to over 200 restaurants in eight countries and is even the official pizza of the LA Dodgers baseball team. While not a massive fast food pizza chain like Pizza Hut or Domino's, the company was doing well throughout its first few decades. However, the chain struggled in 2020 when restaurant dining rooms were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic (via FSR magazine). With rumors swirling around that CPK is closing its doors for good, it's time to understand what's going on with the company.

California Pizza Kitchen has had its share of ups and downs

California Pizza Kitchen serves a whole lot more than just pizzas, which is likely part of the reason it's done well and sets itself apart from other chains. The company's menu features everything from pasta, seafood, and salad to more unique fare like Mexican street corn and Szechwan Chicken Dumplings. On top of its eclectic menu, the franchise is also known for its line of CPK frozen pizzas which has grown to include over 10 varieties, including gluten-free pizza and cauliflower crust pizza, per their official website

However diverse CPK's menu and grocery store offerings might be, it didn't prevent the chain from falling upon hardship at the start of the pandemic. Like many restaurants whose customers were staying away from indoor eating during the early months of COVID-19, CPK saw restaurant sales plummet. In late March 2020, CPK's dine-in sales fell a whopping 77%, and four months later the company filed for bankruptcy, FSR reports. As a result of CPK's financial troubles, customers couldn't help but wonder if the California-based pizza chain's day in the sun had finally come to an end.

What the future looks like for California Pizza Kitchen

Though 2020 wasn't the best year for the company, strategic moves have significantly helped brighten the future of California Pizza Kitchen. For one, the pizza chain took the opportunity to restructure its finances, thus setting itself up for future success. Business Wire reported in December 2021 that CPK planned to embark upon a domestic franchise program, which is likely to spur lots of growth for the company as early as this year.

So what does all this mean for your next trip to California Pizza Kitchen? Well, part of the restaurant's long-term growth plan involves a revamp of its menu. Walk into your nearest CPK and you're likely to find a new menu that includes old favorites but also new additions like California Focaccia appetizers, Avocado Super Green Pizza, Crispy Artichoke Salad, and more (via FSR). Plus, CPK is going all-in on new seasonal dishes to reel customers, like the new California Summer Fields Salad and Summer Fruit Sangria that were featured in Summer 2022, according to their Facebook page. Whether or not California-style pizza is your thing, it's clear that CPK is aiming to create a menu that everyone will enjoy and return to.