- California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) has launched a new product line called CPK Take and Bake Pizzas that will be available for takeout and delivery nationwide, according to a press release.
- The pizzas will be made fresh-to-order in-house, aimed at providing diners with a high-quality takeout experience. Each pizza takes 7-10 minutes to cook.
- The company's decision to offer California-style pizza diners can prepare at home at home reflects a growing trend in the casual dining segment to adapt to changing consumers' desires for speed without lower quality, and in the face of fierce competition from fast casual brands.
CPK is hoping that consumers will be wooed by the flexibility to cook a CPK pizza at the exact moment that they are ready to eat. Cooking a pizza at the restaurant, by contrast, means the diner has longer to wait for their meal, while delivering ready-to-eat pizzas means the pizza sits in the warmer, which can affect quality.
The take-and-bake concept isn't new in the pizza space. Papa Murphy's, for example, built an empire based on the low-overhead take-and-bake concept, though it has been struggling of late and was recently acquired. CPK also already offers frozen pizzas at a wide range of grocery stores.
A few other chains are dabbling with concepts that are takeout-heavy, aimed at appeasing consumers' growing appetite for convenience. In 2018, Chick-fil-A tested a meal kit concept designed to feed two people for $15.89. The kits were designed for customers who didn't want to order ahead or dine-in, but they required roughly 30 minutes of prep time — surely a deal-breaker for those who need a quick meal that fits into their schedule. CPK's take-and-bake pizzas require 10 minutes or less to prepare, which could be a sweet spot manageable for a wider swath of diners.
CPK isn't alone in considering new channels for getting its food into consumers' hands. Pizza Hut may temporarily revamp as many as 500 underperforming locations over the next two years to focus certain stores on the delivery and takeout markets. It's also piloting pizza pick-up cubbies that allow users to pay ahead and pick up their meal from a secure spot. McDonald's also recently opened a hyper-convenience takeaway-only store in London to satisfy the contingent of workers who don't have time to dine-in.
A common theme with these stripped-down formats is that they usually require less overhead by requiring fewer on-site employees, and make it easier to get guests in and out because diners are already planning to get food to go. A key risk factor worth considering, however, is whether quality and consistency could take a hit for the sake of convenience and speed. Letting consumers bake their own pizza means you run the risk of them undercooking or overcooking the pizza, which could quickly turn people off from the idea.