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LEWISVILLE, TX-”Call me Mr. Conservative,” a co-CEO of Huntington Beach, CA-based Chicago Pizza & Brewery Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. The chain is headed to Texas to roll out perhaps just 10 eateries over the long term.

Co-CEO Paul Motenko says the strategy is to take it slow to see how the firm’s brand of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse fares in the Texas market. There were no plans to come to Texas until six to nine months ago when the restaurateur was approached about a site in Dallas. It wasn’t a good fit, but then along came a perfect match in Lewisville. Chicago Pizza has issued a letter of intent for the property, which Motenko believes will close in two months. He would like to be opening doors on the 8,000-sf eatery in summer 2002….”if all goes well,” he says. The Lewisville property is located in a new retail corridor along Interstate 35 north of the Dallas limits.

Motenko tells GlobeSt.com that broker Brian Glaser, senior vice president of the Weitzman Group in Dallas, also is looking at sites in Plano, Irving and Grapevine. Austin, Houston and San Antonio also are on the restaurateur’s radar screen. But for now, Motenko emphasizes, the focus is on Dallas-Ft. Worth. “There are so many opportunities in Dallas,” he says. “And they tell me that they like to eat out in Texas.”

Chicago Pizza’s rollout plan calls for four to six eateries to open in 2002 in Texas. The chain also has restaurants under construction in Irvine, CA and Chandler, AZ.

Chicago Pizza & Brewery operates 27 casual dining restaurants, some of which incorporate brewpubs, a concept that will be considered if the right sites turn up in Texas, where those “dry” municipalities come as a shock to most newcomers. The chain operates 15 Chicago Pizza restaurants in Southern California, one in Lahaina, Maui and another in Boulder, CO. There are four BJ’s locations in Oregon along with six of its Pietro’s brand.

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