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The Cheesecake Factory Phenomenon


dbrociner
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I work with a guy who loves this place, he goes to Menlo Park and waits over an hour to be seated. He claims that he takes a beeper and goes shopping in the mall so its no big deal to wait over an hour to eat in a place thats named after a dessert. So far I'm unimpressd.

Then I'm listening to Michael Kay, the Yankee broadcaster, on his daily radio show on 1050 AM. Kay is asking his sidekick what he did over the weekend. Went to the Cheesecake Factory at Riverside Square. Waited almost 2 hours for a table. Spent the time watching sports at the bar, so it was okay to wait that long. Kay agrees saying that everytime he's eaten in a Cheesecake Factory he's had a super long wait.

I hear a third story about a friend's sister who is taken to the Cheesecake Factory for her birthday and waits and waits...well you get the picture.

So I decide I have to go and find out what all the fuss is about. I get to Menlo Park at 11:45 and beat the lunch rush. I am seated immediately, a victory in and of itself. I look over the menu: it has ads on every other page. One page apetizers one page carpet ad, one page salads one page car dealership. The waitstaff and the hostess are all young and thin, none of these people appear to be eating any cheesecake. The restaurant design looks like Art Deco meets King Tut.

I order a skirt steak in a Latin-Asian sauce. I forget what they called it but the steak was cooked rare as ordered and was very good. $16.99 for a lunch entree, not an inexpensive dish. Most of the people around me were ordering salads. Plates with salad piled to the sky were moving past me the whole time I was eating. I guess people figure that if they're going to have cheesecake for dessert they should have a healthy lunch.

For dessert I had the banana cream cheese cake. It was okay and came with a huge amount of whipped cream. Just what you need with a big slice of cheesecake, an enormous helping of whipped cream. Sort of the ying to the yang of that giant salad I guess. The cheesecake was mediocre. I couldn't reccomend it. With tax and tip I was out the door for $31. As I was leaving, at 12:45 on a Monday afternoon, the wait was 35 minutes.

I guess my question is whats going on here? Why are so many people willing to wait so long to eat at these restaurants? Any thoughts?

Edited by dbrociner (log)
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The restaurant design looks like Art Deco meets King Tut.

I guess my question is whats going on here? Why are so many people willing to wait so long to eat at these restaurants? Any thoughts?

My drinking mate's comment on the Chicago Cheesecake Factory was: "wow, this place looks like vulva!" at which point we were asked to leave.

Didn't get a chance to eat.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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The restaurant design looks like Art Deco meets King Tut.

I guess my question is whats going on here? Why are so many people willing to wait so long to eat at these restaurants? Any thoughts?

My drinking mate's comment on the Chicago Cheesecake Factory was: "wow, this place looks like vulva!" at which point we were asked to leave.

Didn't get a chance to eat.

Maybe your friend meant to say, "This place looks like buttah!" :laugh:

I've fressed at the Factory a couple of times, and I think the attraction is this: dessert! People have sweets on their minds the minute they walk through the door, and any entrees are just a prelude to the big sucrose rush at the end.

Thought the food is tasty, I really don't think anyone heads there for a mile-high salad. :cool:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I mentioned the original thread to several of the younger, single guys at work. Each one mentioned the same thing: great place to meet women while you're waiting for a table.

Maybe it's not really about the desserts at Riverside Square.

Edited by Rail Paul (log)

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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The restaurant design looks like Art Deco meets King Tut.

I guess my question is whats going on here? Why are so many people willing to wait so long to eat at these restaurants? Any thoughts?

My drinking mate's comment on the Chicago Cheesecake Factory was: "wow, this place looks like vulva!" at which point we were asked to leave.

Didn't get a chance to eat.

Okay, now you've got me thinking a bit. What about the Cheesecake Factory is particulary vaginal? The pink and fleshtones of the decor?

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Maybe it's not really about the desserts at Riverside Square.

and i don't think it's about the food either. it's about low expectations and lack of knowledge. not that either is a bad thing, but that's who they cater to.

I disagree. It's a bad thing.

(edit: but you're correct)

from another thread:

Three times every day, producers and consumers get to vote for the kind of world that they want their children to live in: you can vote one way by driving up to the drive-through, or vote another way by going home and cooking a good meal

I had an exquisite lunch experience at "Latour" in Ridgewood today ($27.00 for two). Another at 28 Oak last Thursday ($35.00 and also Ridgewood) and still another at The Citrus Grille (Airmont NY) the Monday prior to that. All three restos are within reasonable striking distance of The Cheesecake Factory's Riverside Square location (and Fink's and Wondee's are even closer). No wait, great service, food and service that ranged from meeting expectations to far exceeding them.

Yeah I can be a snob, but if being so means requiring more than a noisy barn and a trough of slops, than I'll accept the term and proudly sport it.

Eat Cheesecake in a Cheesecake factory? Might as well eat pizza at OTTO.

YMMV

Nick

Edited by ngatti (log)
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nick brings up prices, which is something i was going to mention. lunch at the cheesecake factory, olive garden, or any one of those horrible places can easily be more than a meal at a local, good, restaurant.

the good news is that 90% of americans still perfer the olive garden over latour. otherwise, i'd never be able to get a table.

Edited by tommy (log)
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I'll run these noble and informative comments past my single co-workers and see how they react. I'd still bet it's about meeting women while waiting, not about the food or the prices.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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I'll run these noble and informative  comments past my single co-workers and see how they react.  I'd still bet it's about meeting women while waiting, not about the food or the prices.

Of course it is. Same went for TGI Friday's in its heyday.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I don't have that same seething hatred of TGI Fridays as I do of Cheesecake Factory though. Nobody lines up and waits for an hour to get into a TGI.

sure they do!!!

it occurs to me that if i were looking for women to meet, i certainly wouldn't be looking at the cheesecake factory or chi-chi's. :blink:

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I don't have that same seething hatred of TGI Fridays as I do of Cheesecake Factory though. Nobody lines up and waits for an hour to get into a TGI.

Oh yes they do. I live right next door to one. I can see its neon glow through my bedroom window at night.

One more month of that.

In light of Rail Paul's comment on meeting single women at the CF, I just spoke with the boy who made the vulva observation (an ex-boyfriend, so that was a big stretch). After explaining the reason for my call (try explaining eGullet in a one-minute phone call to someone who has no idea what you're talking about), he observed, penetratingly, that this MAY have been intentional!

It may be the decor that prompts these young males in Rail Paul's workplace to be on the lookout!

To me, this is on the same level of sinister as old-time movie theaters pumping the buttered-popcorn scented gas through the vents to make you purchase popcorn.

At any rate I've never eaten at the CF, so I guess that's all.

Edited by NeroW (log)

Noise is music. All else is food.

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In light of Rail Paul's comment on meeting single women at the CF, I just spoke with the boy who made the vulva observation (an ex-boyfriend, so that was a big stretch).  (H)e observed, penetratingly, that this MAY have been intentional!

This begs the question of how restaurants attract female diners.

Giant phallic symbols masquerading as architectural columns? :blink:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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In light of Rail Paul's comment on meeting single women at the CF, I just spoke with the boy who made the vulva observation (an ex-boyfriend, so that was a big stretch).  (H)e observed, penetratingly, that this MAY have been intentional!

This begs the question of how restaurants attract female diners.

Giant phallic symbols masquerading as architectural columns? :blink:

Fresser, you WOULD think that.

Noise is music. All else is food.

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In light of Rail Paul's comment on meeting single women at the CF, I just spoke with the boy who made the vulva observation (an ex-boyfriend, so that was a big stretch).  (H)e observed, penetratingly, that this MAY have been intentional!

This begs the question of how restaurants attract female diners.

Giant phallic symbols masquerading as architectural columns? :blink:

Fresser, you WOULD think that.

Purely a marketing ploy. :laugh:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I don't have that same seething hatred of TGI Fridays as I do of Cheesecake Factory though. Nobody lines up and waits for an hour to get into a TGI.

sure they do!!!

it occurs to me that if i were looking for women to meet, i certainly wouldn't be looking at the cheesecake factory or chi-chi's. :blink:

Gee I guess I have to get out more. I didn't seem to have problems getting into TGIs (and similar type places like Houlihans, Steak and Ale, Chilis, etc) when I was working up in Mahwah (read as: chain restaurant hell) this last year, but then again, it was usually during lunchtime.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I don't have that same seething hatred of TGI Fridays as I do of Cheesecake Factory though. Nobody lines up and waits for an hour to get into a TGI.

sure they do!!!

it occurs to me that if i were looking for women to meet, i certainly wouldn't be looking at the cheesecake factory or chi-chi's. :blink:

Gee I guess I have to get out more. I didn't seem to have problems getting into TGIs (and similar type places like Houlihans, Steak and Ale, Chilis, etc) when I was working up in Mahwah (read as: chain restaurant hell) this last year, but then again, it was usually during lunchtime.

BUSTED! :wink::biggrin:

Nick

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I don't have that same seething hatred of TGI Fridays as I do of Cheesecake Factory though. Nobody lines up and waits for an hour to get into a TGI.

sure they do!!!

it occurs to me that if i were looking for women to meet, i certainly wouldn't be looking at the cheesecake factory or chi-chi's. :blink:

Gee I guess I have to get out more. I didn't seem to have problems getting into TGIs (and similar type places like Houlihans, Steak and Ale, Chilis, etc) when I was working up in Mahwah (read as: chain restaurant hell) this last year, but then again, it was usually during lunchtime.

BUSTED! :wink::biggrin:

Nick

Hey, don't knock it unless you try it. I actually LIKE the Chilis boneless buffalo wings.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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This discussion reminds me of last year's Mario Batali show "Mario Eats Italy". After soaking up the countryside of Abbruzzo and watching him cook some authentic Italian country foods, here comes an advertisement for Olive Garden(!). What a laugh.

By the way, I've heard that the "chefs" at these chains can be hired with little or no cooking experience, they just follow the "formulas" for all of the dishes. Anyone know about this?

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By the way, I've heard that the "chefs" at these chains can be hired with little or no cooking experience, they just follow the "formulas" for all of the dishes.  Anyone know about this?

aside from the "no experience" bit, i think that's they way a *lot* of restaurants work. :biggrin:

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Yes, it baffles the mind.... I pass 2 Charlie Browns, always a line, Red Lobster is always packed, people think Legal Seafoods is the "best" ever...

Don't these people have any taste in food? They spend as much at these places as in a "real" restaurant. I guess I'm just a restaurant snob....

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By the way, I've heard that the "chefs" at these chains can be hired with little or no cooking experience, they just follow the "formulas" for all of the dishes.  Anyone know about this?

From a "corporate" point of view, this makes some sense.

If a person has experience, they bring good habits as well as bad habits, and you have to tune your training program to identify and update the skill sets to your standards. The Marines and the Jesuits learned that centuries ago. You mold the candidate so totally to your organizational expectations that unquestioning fidelity to the rules is the norm. Those who don't become the ideal, leave.

You don't want to have a discussion every time an order is given, you want exactly the result achieved the last hundred times the order was given.

(I'd suspect Ducasse, for example, is very picky about the places where his chefs trained for the same reason)

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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