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California Pizza Kitchen Goes Hip With New 'Rustic' Look

California Pizza Kitchen Goes Hip With New 'Rustic' Look

Photograph courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

Attention, all BBQ Chicken pizza fans: That California Pizza Kitchen in your neighborhood shopping mall could be getting a dramatic face-lift. The West Coast-based chain announced that it intends to phase out its longtime yellow-hued bistro look in favor of a more local, earthier scheme, which executives described as “rustic,” “organic,” and “relaxed.” Thirteen restaurants will take on the new look by year-end. “We need to be on trend,” said Chief Executive Officer G.J. Hart. “Every restaurant concept needs to stay relevant.”

The new CPK recently arrived at the Westfield Topanga mall in L.A., where it uses reclaimed materials including old railroad trestles from Utah and tabletops made from barn doors, the Los Angeles Times reported. Other twee details: chalkboard signs and herb walls with basil, sage, and fennel. Diners can sit at large communal tables. And outside the restroom is a unisex hand-washing station “meant to evoke a warm family home,” according to the article. CPK opened another restaurant using the new design in Florida’s Sawgrass Mills mall in December.

Also part of the brand “evolution,” as the company is describing it, are reworked recipes and the addition of “artisan ingredients” such as “table-side pours of white truffle oil” to complement certain dishes. The chain is adding gluten-free pizza, craft beers, wine flights, lower-calorie items, and small plates. Coca-Cola (KO) will be the new beverage provider, replacing Pepsi (PEP) (which had a controlling interest in CPK from 1992 to 1997). Customers will start seeing menu changes in August.

The chain, which has 268 locations worldwide, saw revenue fall in 2009 and 2010 following the economic downturn. Its core customers are ages 25 to 45, skew slightly female, and have higher-than-average income. They are also mostly single—only about one-third have kids. The restaurants were acquired by Golden Gate Capital in 2011. Sales stabilized, and research group IBISWorld told the Los Angeles Times that it expects sales to rise this year.

Here’s a look at the new design:

Craft beer and herb wallCourtesy of California Pizza KitchenCraft beer and herb wall

Communal tablesCourtesy of California Pizza KitchenCommunal tables

Outdoor seatingCourtesy of California Pizza KitchenOutdoor seating

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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