California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened its new flagship restaurant at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Fla., this week. The opening showcased the brand's new store prototype and branding efforts, including the repositioning of its iconic pizza hearth and new beverage offerings.

According to CPK CEO G.J. Hart, the new 5,390-square-foot venue with a 1,000-square-foot wraparound patio with outdoor couch and lounge seating, "brings CPK back to its roots as a company that embraces all the things that made it what it is — beginning with California creativity."

"Being 'Californian' is not about a place; it's a mindset," Hart said. "California has never really followed the rules. Thus we are constantly experimenting and trying new things."

With its new concept, CPK plans to bring a stronger California infusion to locations throughout the country and continue to serve up a fresh, energetic, interactive atmosphere for its guests.

The new restaurant features a re-created communal space with less structured indoor seating, including a family-style table seating 16, versus traditional fixed built-in booths. Other new seating options include a large social-styled bar near the entrance and an outdoor terrace fitted with lounge seating areas and fire pits.

California Pizza Kitchen's traditional pizza counter has been re-designed to make the hearth a larger focal point, giving guests the opportunity to interact with CPK's pizza chefs and watch them at work.

Green/design elements

CPK's prototype also features the use of unfinished reclaimed wood in and outside of the restaurant. Trestlewood planks salvaged from the Great Salt Lake railroad trestle don the entrance and patio walls. Reclaimed solid Timber Oak Planks reused from old barn timbers throughout the country, and refurbished to retain knot holes and other character marks, flank the bar and Herringbone walls. Tables are made of salvaged American White Oak rough sawn wood with natural knot holes, variations and other character marks.

"The reclaimed wood offers a casual, but refined feel; very warm in color," Hart said.

Design elements showcase California with large black and white photos of the state interspersed with full-color photographs of South Florida staples.

Menu makeover

Also included in the prototype is new menu and beverage offerings, including three wine flight options: Keep Calm and Chardonnay, California Reds and Adventurous, each allowing guests to experience three, 3-ounce glasses of different wines from the menu.

Eight signature cocktails are also being introduced including "Route 1," made with Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom Vodka and 1800 Silver Tequila, and a Strawberry Basil Martini made with VeeV Acai Spirt, Perfect Puree Strawberry and fresh agave sour.

"Food isn't meant to be timeless, it should be surprising yet accessible," said Brian Sullivan, CPK's senior vice president of Culinary Innovation. "California Pizza Kitchen put California pizza on the map, and forever changed the way people thought about pizza because being Californian means daring to reimagine the norm — to discover something new. The perfect dish should raise an eyebrow and make you smile. At our core, we're passionate about creating meals that you can't find anywhere else."

Some of these new concepts have been tested in other CPK locations, but the new flagship restaurant features a comprehensive combination.

"Based on layout and building specifications of other CPK locations, we will be incorporating elements of the new design where we can," Hart said.

The new restaurant is the seventh full-service CPK in South Florida.

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