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LOS ANGELES -- The number of malls into which California Pizza Kitchen will expand in the future is going down beginning in 2004.

According to Restaurant Business, CPK CEO Fred Hipp told analysts recently the company will focus more on freestanding and inline units while virtually halving its mall openings.

The company has been disappointed with the failure of some large department stores in malls to draw strong traffic.

"We are a concept that depends on a traffic generator," Hipp said. "People use us in relation to doing something else, whether it's a movie or shopping, so if department stores aren't the draw, and there isn't a significant mix of what I would call upscale retail in that mall, we tend to shy away from those."

CPK spends $250,000 to $300,000 more on a freestanding restaurant than it would on a mall site. The company, however, believes better sales at those sites more than makes up for the higher cost.

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