How the California Pizza Kitchen Corporate Office Escaped From the '80s and Became a Community

03-07 22:00

In this series,The Way We Work, Entrepreneur Associate Editor Lydia Belanger examines how people foster productivity, focus, collaboration, creativity and culture in the workplace.

By the time California Pizza Kitchen had been in business for 27 years, its corporate headquarters needed a major makeover. The offices were previously located on Century Boulevard in Los Angeles between two hotels near the airport -- not the trendiest spot.

“It was a very, I call it a ‘vanilla’ building, with ’80s earthtones,” says Chief Development Officer Clint Coleman, who oversees the design of the company’s offices and restaurants. “Very, very high cubicles. No sight lines. Lots of offices. We were bifurcated on two floors. The executives parked in the garage, and everybody else parked in a lot across the street, so there was a little bit of hierarchy, and it just didn’t feel right.”

Coleman and the rest of the leadership team, along with the company’s equity partners began shopping around for a new space. They settled on the top floor of a building in Playa Vista, a mixed-use neighborhood with residential and commercial properties that has been nicknamed Silicon Beach for the high volume of tech startups that call it home.

The team signed a sublease on the 33,000-square-foot space with Fox Interactive Media in spring 2012. It had been vacant since 2008 -- Fox never carried out plans to turn it into an office for Myspace. By the fall, California Pizza Kitchen moved into the new space, which contrary to the old, austere HQ, was filled with light and allowed everyone, regardless of title, to work together on the same floor.

“We were looking to supercharge the energy,” Coleman says, explaining that he perceived how the design of the space, as well as its location among prominent tech companies, motivated employees and even helped with recruiting. “Now, we've got some things that really reinforce our brand and what we stand for.”

With communal areas such as a patio with a fire pit, fun fixtures including a rubber duck pool, a game room and even a wall with framed artifacts from the company’s history, California Pizza Kitchen’s headquarters inspire collaboration, positive attitudes and reflection among the 120 employees who work there.

Click through the slides for a tour of the space.

Related video: Are You Using Your Community to Build Your Business?

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