Happy 30th, California Pizza Kitchen | NBC Southern California

Happy 30th, California Pizza Kitchen

The game-changing pizza-and-more chain made its first BBQ Chicken back in '85.

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    California Pizza Kitchen
    Enjoyed one or two of these in your time? California Pizza Kitchen, the home to the famous-all-over BBQ Chicken Pizza, is turning 30.

    If you had tried to tell your followers about a new restaurant you just ate at, a place called California Pizza Kitchen, back in 1985 -- maybe with the hashtag #bbqchickenpizza or #woodfiredwhoa -- you would have run into some obstacles.

    Hashtags were but a pushable button on your chunky phone back in '85, and the palm-sized technology you held in your hand? It was a neon Walkman audio cassette player.

    But you can hungry-hashtag to your nouveau pizza-loving heart's content in 2015, because California Pizza Kitchen turns 30 on Friday, March 27.

    The titan of contemporary California casual cuisine opened on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. From there the chain expanded to 280-plus restaurants in, count 'em up, 208 cities.

    And it has served a whole heaping lot of that BBQ Chicken Pizza, its superstar dish. The woodfired pie is much associated with the style of Golden State casual cuisine that CPK helped made a full-scale food trend back in the day.

    And yep, CPK: You are known for those out-sized entree salads and fusion-style appetizers, too.

    Oh, right: California Pizza Kitchen sometimes goes by the handle "CPK," too. Have you heard that? We can't be the only ones to say "CPK," right? CeePeeKay, is how it is pronounced.

    We're fooling; every restaurant in the universe wishes it could have the three-lettered cachet that CPK built, crust by fancy crust. And few eateries live as easily by two monikers, and as well, without the brand taking a knock in any shape or form.

    So what's the big plan for the big 30th? There's a cookbook to celebrate -- "Taste of the Seasons" -- and all of the CPKs'll all receive a stylish update in the coming year. Think "(w)alls, tables, and doors" made of reclaimed wood, more natural stone touches, and a menu refresh, too. 

    Twenty of the CPKs have already gotten the buff-up, including the original location in Beverly Hills.

    For sure, those classic pizzas, like the Jamaican Jerk Chicken and the Thai Chicken, are still around. But look for new entries like the Sunnyside Up Bacon + Potato Pizza, too.

    And, of course, the gooey, tangy grandpizza of 'em all is front and center, the BBQ Chicken. Seriously, it's the cilantro, right? Cilantro on pizza? That's the key. If only, back in 1985, lovers of the new-school of pizza-making could have told a bunch of people on a social media site about their fresh discovery.

    We suppose, in celebration of CPK's big 30th, you can revisit the mid-'80s for a moment to share your pizza and '80s pop culture affections in a way that is both retro and current: #cilantro #bbq #chicken #cpk #newkindofpizza #duranduranrules

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