Edward Eng

Business Development Manager

December 26, 2011

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Will CPK Succeed in Taiwan?

There's been a lot of talk in Taiwan about the opening of California Pizza Kitchen.

There’s been a lot of talk in Taiwan about the opening of California Pizza Kitchen. The buzz of a new restaurant is generally a common thing here; however, store closings are just as popular. Can CPK really ‘make it’ in the high-profile Taipei 101 area? They certainly have a lot to compete with. For starters, pizza delivery is extremely fast here in Taiwan via Pizza Hut and Domino’s fine-tuned processes. There are also plenty of casual dining and high-end restaurants in the area. The most notable successful competitor in the area that comes to mind would be Gordon Biersch. Rent is definitely extremely high in this central business district. Maybe this is the reason why Macaroni Grill moved out of the neighborhood. Chili’s, however, has been a mainstay for many years.

Other questions are fresh on the brain too. Will CPK stick with its standard menu or will it try to innovate dishes to ‘follow’ market leaders like Pizza Hut and adapt to the local culture by putting things like squid, cuttlefish, peas, carrots, and corn on pizzas? The other question is…Can CPK really compete by using the high-traffic location advantage versus winning over customers with excellent tasting pizzas like those of Alleycats? Lastly, can CPK rely on Quanta Foods and other partners to truly expand in Asia past China’s Shanghai and into other booming markets like Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam? Time will tell. What are your thoughts?

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  • From my recent visit to CPK, I don’t think it will do very well. For the quality of food I got, I think it was WAY overpriced. I got the Californian pizza and they really skimped out on the toppings. The dessert wasn’t very good either.

    No plans on going back.

    • Edward Eng

      Hi J Dubbs,

      Thanks for the comment. A couple of my friends said similar things. High prices and average food. The questions are…do you think most Taiwanese people care or know any better? Are foreigners looking for a change from places like Alleycats? If so, will these factors contribute to the success of CPK here?

  • I think Taiwanese consumers care about how much they are paying for the quality of the food they are getting. It’s probably not a matter of whether or not they know better but whether or not they actually like what they’re eating. Also, isn’t eating at CPK kind of a hip thing to do? Taiwanese people always go where the crowds are at and right now CPK definitely has a huge crowd!

    Foreigners are always looking for new places to go and hangout. Plus CPK is so well known (and loved!) in the States, I’m sure most people were excited to hear that CPK was opening in Taipei. Even if it’s slightly overpriced, there is a certain comfort with dinning at a familiar place. But again, if the food isn’t good, I doubt people are going to go back again for a second or third time.

    • Edward Eng

      You’re right. Taiwanese people tend to follow crowds just like people anywhere else in the world. Although the food isn’t good according to you and others, maybe CPK’s location is good enough to keep it afloat. Or maybe a place with ‘better’ pizza like Zoca’s will decide to expand in higher-traffic areas in Taiwan and consume more market share, further impacting CPK’s business. It’d also be interesting to see data comparing CPK and Vapiano since they’re located so close to each other but their respective storefront visibility is totally different.

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