I still remember my first dining experience at the Cheesecake Factory in Chicago. I loved the place. It was large, busy, comfortable. The menu offered a huge array of dishes. The quality of food was amazing. The amount of food for the money blew my mind (I’m a big eater and like large portions).
Few restaurant chains enjoy the success that the Cheesecake Factory has. The fact is this place over-delivers in every way.
What I find really interesting is how it transitioned from a dessert place to a full-fledged restaurant without changing its name. It goes to show that quality can overcome any branding issues. If you haven’t dined at a Cheesecake Factory, you gotta go.
1. The Cheesecake Factory has over 40 varieties of cheesecake
Its primary purpose continues to be and has always been cheesecake. It is the only restaurant with 40 different cheesecakes to offer. Consumer favorites are the Oreo cheesecake, mango lime cheesecake, the celebration cheesecake in, the salted caramel cheesecake coffee cheesecake and the chocolate cheesecake, which features several types of chocolate. Something sweet without cheating on the diet can be satisfied with the low carb cheesecake and the low carb cheesecake with strawberries.
2. Seasonal offerings
The menu features pumpkin and pumpkin pecan cheesecake, which are only available in September in order to get patrons in the mood for Halloween. The peppermint bark cheesecake is meant to bring the spirit of Thanksgiving and holidays.
3. 2 bakeries do it all
All of the cheesecakes are made in two bakeries located in California and North Carolina. This means that every cheesecake in every restaurant in the world is made at one of these two locations.
4. Ship cheese cakes all over the world
The bakeries freeze the cheesecakes and ship them around the world every day. The original cheesecake that started the tradition remains on the menu. It is simple and extremely delicious.
5. Evelyn Overton created the original cheesecake
She found the recipe in a newspaper while looking for a new dish for her family. Evelyn originally only baked for her family and friends. People loved her cheesecakes so much that she started to sell them locally. This led to the current empire, which features dozens of restaurants.
6. The first cheesecakes were made in a Detroit basement kitchen
Evelyn used the space to create thousands of cheesecakes. She viewed the area as a laboratory for her creations. Evelyn only intended to make some extra cash at first. Her first bakery was opened after her children were full grown in 1978 by Evelyn’s son David.
7. David was originally a musician
He left his band to come home and help his parents with their new business. The bakery existed primarily to sell desserts to other restaurants. A couple of years later the concept was widened and made into a full restaurant.
8. Massive menu = impressive
Because of its origin, the restaurant still features more desserts than any of its competitors. The restaurant also has more items on its menu than many other diners. There’s a 21-page menu that offers more than 250 plates. A customer can eat there almost the entire year without tasting the same dish twice. The concept has worked well despite the large serving sizes.
9. The restaurant goes through a shocking number of avocados
Over 3 million lbs of avocado are used to support various menu items. Avocados are used in a great number of the dishes. Almost all appetizers are prepared with avocados. There are multiple salads with avocado. Avocados are on the burgers and sandwiches. Avocados can be had in the entree, main dish and dessert.
10. World-famous egg rolls
More importantly, the restaurant has the world’s most famous egg rolls, including avocado egg rolls, Tex-Mex egg rolls and the egg roll sampler. The samplers allow the customer to try all of the egg rolls and pick their favorites.
11. Offers superfood menu items for the health conscious
The super-foods menu have the plates with the most nutrients and antioxidants. There are mixes of greens and grains that are perfect for healthy, clean diets.
12. 100 sauces
The restaurant makes more than 100 sauces daily. Almost every dish is dressed with a sauce, including the desserts. Sauce features are sweet sauce, spicy sauce, hot sauce and so many more. The Tamarind Cashew dipping sauce takes more than one hour to make. The company insists on making everything fresh so the sauces that are served and made that same day. Waste is prevented by putting the sauces up for sale as a single item at the restaurant. This allows customers to use the sauces to spice up their dishes at home.
13. The Overton family is a great “rags to riches” story
The concept began in a family kitchen. The creator never thought that her idea would grow into a Fortune 500 company. She closed her first shop quickly after opening it in order to focus on raising her children. The store reopening with the help of her son. David Overton knew his mom’s recipe was a winner.
14. There are now three different restaurant chains
The company also owns the Grand Lux Cafe and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen. The Lux Cafe is David Overton’s take on the classic European Cafe. It is available at 13 locations. The RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen was built on the partnership between David Orton and Chef Mohan Ismail, who is a Singapore raised chef.
15. Experimented with a self-service location
There used to be a self-service location at Disney World’s Disney Quest. However, the company didn’t renew its contract with Disney so it closed in 2008.
16. Employee’s love working there
The restaurant is the only company featured on Fortune 100’s “Best Companies to Work For” list for two years in a row. The restaurant is also the only Los Angeles company to be noted by the publication. Many employees are overworked and always have something to complain about. This isn’t the case with this organization. Employees are treated with the respect they deserve and all of the expected benefits.
17. Health plan for employees
Everyone has a corporate Health Plan for themselves and immediate family members when they work 25+ hours per week. There is a 3-week paid vacation for every 5 years at the corporate level. I used to work in the restaurant industry and health plans aren’t all that common. Kudos to the Cheesecake Factory.
18. Donates 500,000 lbs. of food every year
It donates more than 500,000 lbs of food a year to food rescue programs. Since food is made fresh every day there’s always a good amount left over. This is donated to the Harvest Food donation program. The program collects food from restaurants and gives them to local shelters and other people with low incomes. This food is also served at soup kitchens, after school programs and transitional houses. The company also raises money for community projects. They put together 2.5 million dollars for the City of Hope.
19. Invented carrot cheesecake
The carrot cake cheesecake started out as a joke and is now a staple on the menu. There are carrot cake cheesecake recipes everywhere. However, none of them are the original. These must be tasted at an official restaurant. The restaurant is always fostering new ideas and adding items to the menu on a regular basis. Not every concept is an original recipe. However, a great deal of them are. Aside from cheesecake, the restaurant also keeps coming up with new burgers and salads.
20. David Overton personally chooses the music for the restaurants
He is a music aficionado and used to be in a blues band called the Billy Roberts Blues Band. They opened for famous artists like Janis Joplin. David’s band was so successful that he was able to put himself through college with the money that he made. His musical background certifies his taste in music as well as food.
21. From 3 employees and now has over 33,000
David Overton believes that the success of the company is all about staff members, and how they relate to the guests. A restaurant must have great people in order to thrive. Executives look for people who are self-motivated and have the desire to learn and grow. They consider applicants who have the ability to sell cheesecake. Simple attributes such as bright eyes, a big smile, energy, the ability to personify hospitality are key factors. These qualities are visible right away.
22. The Culinary R&D Center is located in Calabasas, California
This is where the most talented chefs work to perfect recipes that are presented in the restaurants around the world. David Overton comes down for tastings four or five times per week. The chefs then show new menu concepts.
23. Focus on hiring talent
The first goal is to attract them. After getting hired into the company new employees go through extensive training. Most employees spend a great deal of time training at every level due to the sophisticated nature of the operations. There is a great health care program with a company that allows staff to qualify for health care very early in their careers. General managers are offered managing equity partnerships. They are also given a BMW to drive once they have taken over a restaurant.
There are employees who have been with the company for 30 years.
24. The store opening at the Haywood Mall in Greenville, South Carolina created nearly 300 jobs in the local community
The company announced that it would be joining the Haywood family of restaurants. This created a great deal of anticipation. Up to 1,000 special invitees came in to enjoy a meal prior to the grand opening as employees went through a dress rehearsal. There were more than 6,000 applications for the available positions. This allowed managers to select the very best candidates for the jobs. Representatives of the Haywood Mall give the opening credit for reinstalling its relevance in the Greenville community.
25. Has its own culinary research development team
The primary focus is inventing the next “made from scratch” dish for guests. The culinary vision here sets the standard unlike any other restaurant organization.
26. Wants to keep growing
This includes revenue growth, with revenue nearly tripling from $650 million to $1.8 billion over the last 10 years. During that same time, the number of employees grew from 15,000 to 34,000. There are now 170+ locations. In 2017, the expanded into Canada.
27. Random casual days are normal at restaurant locations
Management likes to have fun with casual days so employees are encouraged to wear their blue jeans and sneakers.
28. Pork and alcohol were removed from the locations that were opened in Kuwait and Dubai
However, the portions are the same size and the entire menu is the same. These Middle East locations began with tremendous success.