California Pizza Kitchen moved into a new home in downtown San Luis Obispo Aug. 1 as residents were more than eager to get a taste of what people were buzzing about.
“This is the next new place for Cal Poly’s 21 and over,” said Melissa Kramer, the director of members for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.
Kramer, along with about 20 others, was waiting outside of CPK for its grand opening and to be among the first to try one of its unique menu items. The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza is the most popular pizza they offer, and Kramer suggests drinking a raspberry mojito to go along with that.
The restaurant was full by noon as residents filled in the booths for what looked to be another promising opening for the CPK chain.
Erin Murphy, CPK’s public relations manager, said that the restaurant chain adds new menu items twice a year while still keeping the most popular items on the menu.
“We try to keep our menu fresh,” Murphy said. “The Thai Crunch Salad is becoming really popular. We originated The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza 21 years ago in Beverly Hills, and it was the most popular then and is still our most popular now.”
Others in the community have wondered whether the opening of CPK could damage local businesses with such a big chain restaurant moving in. Pizza Solo’s assistant manager Kristen Burgess said that another pizza place located right by Pizza Solo was not necessary, but that CPK has an entirely different setting, and that Pizza Solo has loyal customers that will stay with them.
“(CPK) will definitely affect us the first couple of months at least. It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so close to us, but they’re practically a hop, skip and a jump away,” Burgess said.
Mike Swift, the general manager for Woodstock’s Pizza, said that the opening of CPK would affect his business to a point, but would not take away its core customers.
“They market a different type of customer than us,” Swift said.
Although Woodstock’s Pizza is considered a chain, Swift wanted people to know that it is a family-run operation with only five locations, unlike CPK which is a worldwide corporation.
However, Swift said he would like to go in and try out their menu but does not see himself becoming a regular there.
Audrey McClellan was hired as a server for CPK and said that all trainees had to go through two weeks of eight-hours-per-day training and were given five tests on ingredients in each dish.
“SLO needs a place like this,” McClellan said, adding that her favorite meal is the Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad.
“I love the food here, and my old roommate works at a CPK in L.A. and rages about it all the time,” she said.
Customers Tracy Hall and Rickelle Goyt were among the first in line for the opening and said that they would definitely recommend their food and come back for more.
“It was full of flavor; I’d definitely have it again,” Hall said of her Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad.
CPK began 21 years ago in Beverly Hills and has since opened up stores around the world. Located in 28 states and 5 different countries, CPK has of 197 locations. The new San Luis Obispo location opened up 133 jobs for the town and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It features an extensive menu ranging from salads to pastas and pizzas and also has a full bar, which includes CPK specialties such as the CPKooler.