California Pizza Kitchen Moving Headquarters to Orange County’s ‘Restaurant Row’

Dining Chain Relocating Corporate Operations From Los Angeles After Financial Restructuring

By Lou Hirsh
CoStar News

April 1, 2021 | 6:50 AM

California Pizza Kitchen is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Costa Mesa, California, where it would join a “Restaurant Row” of more than a dozen major dining industry companies that have already made Orange County their corporate home over the past several decades.

A company spokeswoman told CoStar News that California Pizza Kitchen, which also goes by CPK, plans to move in early June from its current headquarters office in Los Angeles’ Playa Vista neighborhood to the office complex known as The Met in Costa Mesa.

CoStar data shows CPK this month signed a lease for 37,875 square feet that runs through December 2024 at The Met, located at 575 Anton Blvd., where it plans to employ 252.

“The move to Costa Mesa makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons: it fits with our strategic goals for our new phase of growth; it places us in an important trade area near a high concentration of our CPK restaurants; and our new location delivers against our needs for an open, collaborative, tech forward and COVID safe office space,” CEO Jim Hyatt said in a statement.

Officials said moving plans are contingent on the easing of local business operating restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic. The relocation comes as the full-service, casual dining chain with 155 restaurants employing 7,500, emerges from a July 2020 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing after a debt restructuring aided by its private equity owners.

The restaurant chain was founded in Los Angeles County in 1985. The decision to move comes only about half a year after CPK had signed an almost 34,000 square-foot deal to move its headquarters from near Los Angeles International Airport to the fifth floor of an office building at 12181 Bluff Creek Drive in Playa Vista, a prominent tech hub in Los Angeles’ so-called Silicon Beach. The nine-year deal signed in August 2020 was a sublease from Fox Interactive Media, which had leased more than 43,000 square feet at the complex in 2009 but never fully occupied the space, according to the Los Angeles Times. CPK did not disclose its plans for the Playa Vista space.

Company executives said the new Orange County location is expected to house the company’s restaurant support center and serve all of its corporate, domestic and global franchise businesses. The company is retaining its “culinary innovation kitchen” used to test menu concepts in Redondo Beach near Los Angeles.

More than a dozen national and regional restaurant operators have moved their headquarters to the Orange County region over the past several decades.

Among the latest and highest-profile was Chipotle Mexican Grill, which announced in May 2018 that it would be moving its longtime headquarters from Denver to the coastal city of Newport Beach. It formally relocated in 2019, entering the home turf of three big direct competitors in Mexican-style fare that had settled in Orange County years earlier: Taco Bell, Del Taco and El Pollo Loco.

Orange County Appeal

Orange County is also home to the headquarters of major chains such as In-N-Out Burger, Wienerschnitzel, Johnny Rockets, Sizzler, B.J.’s Restaurants and Pick Up Stix. Orange County economic development leaders note the region is the corporate home to at least 20 large restaurant companies.

“I don’t think it’s been specific business incentives, but the companies in that industry have definitely been choosing to locate here,” said Wallace Walrod, chief economic adviser for the Irvine-based Orange County Business Council, a regional nonprofit research and advocacy group, in a 2018 interview with CoStar News. “In the [economic development] industry, they call it conglomeration — in other words, business clustering.”

Walrod said that Orange County cluster over the years has come to attract highly trained restaurant industry professionals, and also support companies that specifically serve the restaurant industry, including advertising agencies, consulting firms, and accounting and law firms.

The well-known beach lifestyle vibe of Orange County has also attracted restaurant companies looking to be associated with that lifestyle branding. Also not hurting, at least prior to the pandemic, was the region’s strong tourism industry, led by top visitor generators such as Disneyland. In more normal times, that makes the region a good place to test out dining and menu concepts on a broad audience.

“There’s a big contingent of international tourists, so that helps to make this a great place for companies that operate restaurant industry focus groups to have their operations,” Walrod said.

According to its website, the Costa Mesa office complex known as The Met, built in 1985 and owned since 2015 by McCarthy Cook & Co., has recently been redesigned around food-centric elements.

The complex features a “Food Truck Runway” serving office tenants with a rotating mix of offerings from locally based vendors.