One major fast casual chain is fading into the Washington sunset. California Pizza Kitchen — the 34-year-old franchise famous for its chicken barbecue pies — will close its locations in the Northgate Mall and Bellevue on Thursday, currently the only two CPK restaurants left in the entire state (there was another location in Tukwila that closed last year). A rep for the chain confirmed the news to Eater Seattle, but did not reveal a reason for the closures. Those two particular branches ran into difficult circumstances: Northgate Mall is turning into a ghost town, and Bellevue’s rents continue to skyrocket.
Locals may have mixed feelings on whether they’ll miss California Pizza Kitchen or not. On the one hand, this is an area that has plenty of great pizza options, including longtime local chains to support, such as Pagliacci. On the other, for many people here and around the country, CPK evokes fond mall food court memories, and may have been the first introduction that one had to pizza toppings beyond the basics. Eater writer Vivian Lee once wrote that the restaurant even had positive cultural connotations.
But, even though California Pizza Kitchen still has a large presence in the U.S. and around the world with more than 240 locations, there have been signs of retraction. The chain recently closed down its outpost in Manhattan, as well as a prominent mall in New Jersey. And, amid sagging sales, CPK announced that it was getting into the “take-and-bake” business, offering customers pizza that they can cook at home for a discounted price.