California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) was founded in 1985 by attorneys Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax.
The first location was on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, California with an investment of $550,000. The company was an immediate success. By 1992 there were 26 restaurants in the chain.
In 1992 PepsiCo paid about $100 million for a 67% stake in the company.
PepsiCo began an aggressive expansion strategy, which proved to be a failure.
In 1997 private equity firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Company bought out PepsiCo’s two-thirds with the intention of taking the company public in 2000. They did so, and CPK was a public company, trading on the NASDAQ, from 2000 to 2011.
Another expansion was executed but it turned out that the people in charge were masking difficult financial information and were fired. Founders Rosenfield and Flax took over the company again.
In 2011 the company was acquired by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital.
Today California Pizza Kitchen has 265 casual-dining restaurants that specialize in pizzas with unique toppings and combinations, including duck, shrimp, pears, and salad.