With Bankruptcy in Rear View, California Pizza Kitchen Ignites Expansion | FSR magazine

California Pizza Kitchen hired Giorgio Minardi as executive vice president of ball-shaped development and franchise operations in the fall of 2019 with the intent of initiating its first-ever domestic franchise course of study .
The brand made the move not knowing that in the postdate months, the restaurant industry would be completely disrupted by an unprecedented global catastrophe. CPK is familiar with COVID ’ mho impingement ampere much as anyone. Dine-in sales dropped 77 percentage in the final workweek of March 2020, and the restaurant shut down closely 50 stores that couldn ’ metric ton offer off-premises .
Four months subsequently, CPK was forced into bankruptcy, not only because of systemwide COVID shutdowns, but besides due to the growing competition of fast casuals, the limitations of malls, and the acceleration of third-party rescue. even anterior to 2020, the stigmatize faced liquidity issues and hired a newly management team to improve its fiscal put. CPK went ampere far as retaining Guggenheim Securities and Kirkland to explore M & A opportunities, but the pandemic procrastinate efforts .
In the midst of bankruptcy, the chain attempted a sale again, but received no qualify bids for its assets. so CPK used its early restructure option— reducing its approximately $ 400 million debt by more than half and removing near-term maturities.

After emerging from bankruptcy in November 2020, CPK hired CFO Judd Tirnauer, an diligence veteran with more than 25 years of experience in progressive finance and strategic plan. The party besides exited court proceedings with a renewed market feat, improved off-premises measures, and the like instinct for menu initiation .
In 2021, sales clawed second to pre-COVID performance levels. now the post is returning to what it set out to do when Minardi came onboard—solidifying franchise partnerships and kickstarting U.S. expansion .
“ [ Previously ] they would prefer good to focus on company because obviously the margins were much, much bigger in that sense, ” Minardi says. “ Myself, I come from the franchising industry from McDonald ‘s to Burger King, I worked in Dunkin ’ Brands, so I understand the value of having great franchisees in the system, how that could help accelerate growth on one side, but besides keep the system humble. ”

When CPK appointed Jim Hyatt as CEO in early 2018, the chain was approaching 300 locations in 13 countries and U.S. territories. In the years since, the unit count has fallen under 200, with about 150 in the U.S. and 40 internationally. Minardi says the goal is to shift that trajectory and reach at least 300 restaurants globally in the adjacent decade, including 25 U.S. operators .
The pizza chain leverages three chief methods of growth—international franchises, company-run locations, and contracts with nontraditional locations in the U.S. like airports, casinos, and stadiums. With the new domestic franchise program, CPK will work to fill the rest of the nation ; the stigmatize doesn ’ thymine operate in 23 states, which Minardi describes as “ fantastic ” white distance.

Four layouts will be offered to electric potential candidates. The first is the “ flagship, ” a design that comes with an gallop bar and outdoor patio within 5,800 square feet or more. then there ’ s the “ criterion, ” a approximately 4,800-square-foot prototype with a antagonistic bar. The final examination two are smaller versions ; one is a booth for malls, business centers, and parks, and the other is an express model for concession-style buffet service in stadiums and universities .
Given the shift toward off-premises and the difficulty of finding 6,000 feather feet of space in today ’ s marketplace, Minardi says the standard, 4,800-square-foot prototype will likely be the “ bullseye ” with future franchisees .
“ In the past, we chiefly did flagships or slightly smaller because obviously that ‘s where we have our biggest impact and we have our biggest returns and so that has been constantly our harbinger, but in today ‘s universe you have to be flexible, ” he says .