Larry Flax

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - February 07, 2007
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Larry Flax
Larry Flax

California Pizza Kitchen co-chief executive officer Larry Flax won’t be putting on the pepperoni personally at the new CPK/ASAP, in Kailua, but he will be helping the community by hosting pizza parties for Kaneohe Marine families in March, and supporting the Kailua Boys and Girls Clubs.

“We’re here to serve the local community,” says Flax as he addressed all employees at the 2,700-square-foot Kailua Road CPL/ASAP store, which opened Jan. 29.

Every quarter, Flax visits Hawaii and spends time with Carole Kai and her husband Eddie Onouye, developing new ideas for the restaurant. Kai, of Hawaii Stars fame and the Great Aloha Run coordinator, has been a local liaison with California Pizza Kitchen since it opened at Kahala Mall in 1987.

CPK/ASAP focuses on doing things fast, and offers many of the CPK dishes already familiar to customers.

Flax and his co-chief executive officer Rick Rosenfield - both former attorneys - attended each of the openings of the 200 CPKs in 29 states and six foreign countries. Flax and Rosenfield also authored The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook. One or both of them will attend openings of the 20 new locations this year.

Flax’s restaurant experience includes working as a dishwasher at a country club while in high school. He also lost money investing in a restaurant at one time. And he recently portrayed a server and a dishwasher on a reality TV show. Before starting the CPK franchise with Rosenfield in 1985 in California, he worked in a supermarket, in the life-insurance business and as a practicing attorney.

Flax and Rosenfield want their employees to be rock stars. In the company manual, R.O.C.K. stands for respect, opportunity, communication and kindness.

“Families that respect each other have lots of fun,” Flax reasons. “Families that don’t respect each other have a lot of pain.”

Their corporate model emphasizes “unabashed communication.” Flax urges employees to be good listeners and good communicators, since communication is necessary between co-workers and customers, especially in the fast-paced restaurant business.

Employees with experience in the franchise restaurant industry have expressed how impressed they are that the owners take the time to meet and speak to their employees. Flax demonstrates his caring spirit when says he believes that “kind, spirited people are the glue of the company.”

- Linda Dela Cruz

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