Founded in 1978 in Orange County, California, BJ's Restaurants owns and operates a chain of 68 high-end casual dining restaurants in the Western United States that serve its signature deep-dish pizzas, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pastas, steaks, baby back ribs, and its own hand-crafted beers. Each restaurant is either operated as a BJ s Restaurant & Brewery, which has a brewery in the restaurant, a BJ s Restaurant & Brewhouse, which receives beer from one of its breweries, a contract brewer of the company s proprietary recipes or a BJ s Pizza & Grill, a smaller format, full service restaurant. The broad menu offers a wide range of entr e prices ($8.50 to $19.95) with an average guest check of $12, and allows BJ's to appeal to a variety of guests, and dining occasions including everyday lunch and dinner, special occasions, and late night business.
The company's restaurants are located in California (39), Texas (11), Arizona (4), Oregon (3), Colorado (3), Nevada (2), Florida (3), Ohio (1), and Oklahoma (2). The company also has a licensing interest in a BJ's restaurant in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.
The first BJ's restaurant, called BJ Chicago Pizzeria was opened by two men in 1978, and specialized in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Over the next 13 years, the men opened four additional restaurants, and in 1991 they sold the company to its current joint CEOs and chairmen Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessey, who changed the company s name to Chicago Pizza & Brewery. The new management slowly expanded the concept to reach all consumer demographics by broadening the menu and entering the microbrewery business in 1996.
That same year the company expanded geographically by acquiring 19 restaurants in Oregon and Washington from Pietros. The Pietros restaurants served primarily thin-crust pizza in a very casual counter-service environment. Unfortunately, the concept failed and over the next eight years BJ's closed 13 of the Pietros restaurants, sold three to employees and converted three to BJ's locations.
In 1996, the company made an IPO of 1.8 million shares at $5 per share, and 2.1 million warrants at $0.25 each, raising more than $9 million. In January 2005, BJ's hired Jerry Deitchle, formerly President (2002-2004) and CFO (1995-2002) at the Cheesecake Factory. In March 2005, the company announced the completion of a $42.6 million private placement of common stock with three large institutional investors. The transaction involved the sale of 2.75 million shares of common stock at a price of $15.50 per share.