Eye on the Chains – June/July 2020

CPK Market Offers Groceries and Meal Kits

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) to move into the meal kit and grocery business in a big way. In early April, the Playa Vista, California-based chain introduced CPK Market, which provides specialty meal kits as well as pantry and grocery items to customers who can no longer enjoy the dine-in restaurant experience. “Given that the entire country is dining differently and family mealtime is more important than ever, establishing a concept where guests could confidently purchase affordable produce, meat and other essential pantry items was the best way we felt we could attend to [their] immediate needs,” said Ashley Ceraolo, CPK’s senior vice president of marketing.

Several of CPK’s new meal kits were spring-themed and featured roasted salmon, pan-roasted chicken and grilled rib eye. Year-round options include the Lettuce Wrap Kit (lettuce cups, Asian-inspired lettuce wrap sauce, green onions, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and chicken) and the Taco Kit (a choice of flap steak, mahi or chicken with cilantro, limes, Roma tomatoes, serrano peppers, yellow onions, black beans, shredded cheese and tortillas). CPK Market also offers build-your-own pepperoni and cheese pizza kits for kids.

Also available from CPK Market are dairy and pantry staples (eggs, rice, flour, sugar and milk); raw produce (avocados, blueberries, Granny Smith apples, limes, oranges, pineapples and more); raw meat (flap beef, rib eye, Italian chicken sausage, salmon, mahi and shrimp); dry pastas and sauces; bread, chips and crackers; and desserts (key lime pie, red velvet cake, brownies and more).

Customers can also choose from a selection of beers—including Modelo Especial, Newcastle Brown Ale and Stella Artois—and wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and others. They can place their orders online or onsite and pick up the bagged groceries at curbside or at the cash register, and select CPK Market locations will offer at-home delivery.

Jonathan Taylor Hedges His Bets With Toppers Pizza 

Former Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, one of college football’s all-time leading rushers, has a potentially lucrative NFL career ahead of him, but he knows one injury can put him on the sidelines for life. So Taylor, who was drafted in April by the Indianapolis Colts, has also bought into four Madison locations of Toppers Pizza, ranked as one of the top 200 food-based franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2018. Taylor, who was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 6,000 yards in a three-year span, was a unanimous first-team All-American in 2018 and 2019 and won the Doak Walker Award for the top running back in college football. “The biggest thing that drew me to the [Toppers] organization was how friendly and open they were, inviting me to the team,” Taylor said in a statement. “When you meet the Toppers home office team, you get a warm, welcoming feeling. It’s like a family member that you see during the holidays that you can’t wait to spend time with. That family atmosphere is going to help me stay connected to Madison.”

Permission to Eat Pizza With a Fork

Marco’s Pizza says it’s the first national pizza delivery brand to roll out crust-free pizza bowls for customers adhering to high-protein, low-carb diets. The Toledo, Ohio-based chain debuted its Specialty Pizza Bowls as a permanent part of the menu in March. They come in three varieties—Deluxe, All-Meat and Garden—at a suggested price of $8.49. The company says the bowls reflect the portion of a medium specialty pizza. “The Specialty Pizza Bowl is everything you love about pizza minus the crust,” said Marco’s senior vice president and chief experience officer Steve Seyferth in a press release. “With more than one-fourth of the population tossing and wasting the crust of pizza and the popularization of [food] bowls, this product is an ideal fit. Marco’s gives you permission to eat pizza with a fork.”