BJ's Restaurants Company History Timeline


Since our humble beginnings in Southern California back in 1978, we’ve continued to craft an experience that energizes you, makes you feel at home and delivers quality food and beverages.

BJ's was founded in 1978 and first opened in Santa Ana, California, as BJ's Chicago Pizzeria by Mike Phillips and Bill Cunningham.


By 1991, BJ's had won just about every "Best Pizza" award given in the Los Angeles area.

1991: Cunningham and Phillips turn the management of company over to their accountants, Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessey.

Phillips and Cunningham sold their company to their accountants Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessy in 1991.


In March 1997, Chicago Pizza & Brewery announced the opening of its first restaurant in Boulder, Colorado.

As 1997 ended, the company boasted 27 restaurants with annual sales of $26 million.

Josh Fulk, the director of brewing operations, formerly headed brewing and packaging for MillerCoors, and Tobey Oliver, the director of brewery production and logistics, has been with the company since 1997.


The company had 1998 revenues of $30.1 million, up 15 percent from the previous year.

1998: Chicago Pizza & Brewery rejects a takeover bid from La Pizza Loca, Inc.


In 1999, it also opened new restaurants in Arcadia, Woodland Hills, and La Mesa, California, and planned several other new sites in the coming months.


In spring 2000, Chicago Pizza opened a new restaurant in West Covina, California, which had 12,000 square feet in area as well as the chain's largest microbrewery.


In 2013, BJ's produced a combined total of 60,000 barrels annually at their 11 brewery restaurants to serve their chain of 136 restaurants in 15 states.

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Bill Cunningham,Mike Phillips,Jerry Hennessy,Paul Motenko
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BJ's Restaurants History FAQs

How Old Is Bj's Restaurants?

BJ's Restaurants is 45 years old.

Who Is The Founder Of Bj's Restaurants?

Bill Cunningham, Mike Phillips, Jerry Hennessy and Paul Motenko founded BJ's Restaurants.

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