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CPK launches first China outlet

Casual dining brand plans Asia expansion

California Pizza Kitchen debuted its first corporate-owned location in China together with an international office that chain officials said will aid the brand’s long-term expansion plans for Asia.

The new CPK outlet is located in Shanghai in the Sinan Mansion’s commercial area of the LuWan District. It marks the first CPK location in the People’s Republic of China, although the chain has three restaurants in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of neighboring China.

Los Angeles-based CPK is one of only a handful of American casual-dining brands that have expanded into mainland China, although the economically booming nation has been a target for growth for many in the quick service segment, including Carl’s Jr., Baskin-Robbins, Krispy Kreme, Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts and Fatburger.

McDonald’s opened a training center in Shanghai earlier this year as part of that chain’s aggressive growth plans in Asia. McDonald’s has more than 1,100  locations in China, and the chain plans to add another 1,000 over the next six years.

Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc. also has more than 3,500 restaurants in China, including its KFC and Pizza Hut brands, as well as local concept East Dawning, a quick-service Chinese food brand.

In the casual-dining segment, Carrollton, Texas-based T.G.I. Friday’s has locations in China and Dallas-based Brinker International said earlier this year international expansion plans include opening restaurants in China, as well as India and Russia. Brinker’s 425 international restaurants, which includes the Chili’s Grill and Bar brand, are primarily in Mexico and the Middle East.

California Pizza Kitchen officials declined to elaborate on the chain’s expansion plans for Asia. The company’s 267 units systemwide includes 31 international locations.

However, Rick Rosenfield, CPK’s co-founder and co-chief executive, said: “California Pizza Kitchen has been well received internationally, and we see a great opportunity to further expand the brand in one of the most robust economies in the world. The presence of company-owned restaurants and an international office will allow us to provide better support for our franchise partners in India, Malaysia, Dubai and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.”

Earlier this year, the first CPK unit opened in Mumbai by franchisee JSMGGC India Pvt. Ltd., a joint venture between Mumbai-based JSM Corp. and Dubai-based Gourmet Gulf Co.

Other international CPK locations are in Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Mexico, South Korea, Guam, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

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