>California Pizza Kitchen seeking buyers

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>NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES, April 9 (Reuters) – California Pizza Kitchen Inc (CPKI.O) is seeking buyers for the restaurant chain, a source familiar with the deal said, sending its shares up as much as 17 percent on Friday.

The chain known for gourmet hearth-baked pizzas and creative salads is valued at just over $500 million based on Friday’s closing share price of $20.74.

California Pizza shares rose as much as 17.2 percent on Friday, including the after-hours rise.

Private equity groups have been smelling opportunity in the casual dining sector of late, as financing becomes more accessible and consumers show more willingness to eat out.

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