Phoenix has seen an influx of all kinds of pizza over the years. Pizza lovers will find representation from Chicago and New York, Italy and Detroit. There are also several chains originating in California. The California style of pizza had a moment several years ago, as the style pushed out of Southern California and into the rest of the United States. However, one of the originators of the style has fallen on hard times, and now the last of the chain’s locations here in the Valley has closed up for good.
California Pizza Kitchen opened its first location in Beverly Hills back in 1985. It specialized in, you guessed it, California pizza. California pizza takes advantage of the thinner New York style of crust while adding on California-based ingredients (if you’re looking for someone to thank or blame for broccoli and spinach on pizza, look to California). In the early years, California Pizza Kitchen (also known as CPK) expanded rapidly, eventually moving out of the United States and into countries around the globe. However, CPK ran into a brick wall in 2020 and eventually filed for bankruptcy. The company pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in reality, the chain had been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for some time. It simply was COVID that pushed it over the edge.
The chain has clawed itself out of bankruptcy in the two years since filing, and the company has focused on preserving its locations not only internationally, but in very specific regions. It favors airport restaurants as well as hand-selected markets. In order to remain strong, it has trimmed all its excess fat away, resulting in the closure of restaurants around the country. This is why the final CPK is now closed in metro Phoenix, as the Tempe location inside the Tempe Marketplace has officially closed its doors for the last time.
California Pizza Kitchen was one of the first restaurants to move into the Tempe Marketplace upon its initial opening. It had remained strong over the years, despite the chain’s struggles. However, the 2000 East Rio Salado Parkway restaurant is now closed for good.
For anyone looking to enjoy their favorites from California Pizza Kitchen, there are a few options remaining. They will either need to travel out of the state and into California to visit a physical restaurant, or they can stop by a large grocery store and select one of the frozen options, which will still be offered.