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Cheesecake Factory, a California Chain with over 200 Restaurants and a $2 Billion Market Cap


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On 12/6/2018 at 8:48 AM, B.A.R. said:

I find the breadth of the CF Menu and portion sizes to be appalling. That being said, I have always been pleased with the quality and freshness of the food I have received. It is light years above any other high-volume chain. The "Thai" lettuce wraps are by no means Thai food, but they are flavorful, fresh, and the appetizer fills me up (far more than my recent $190 bill at O-Ku). I have enjoyed every meal I have had at CF and have no qualms about going back, again and again.

 

On 12/27/2018 at 3:36 PM, DaveO said:

Having been the recipient of a rather large CF gift card I thought I'd visit (for the first time in ages) and had lunch at the Clarendon CF.  My biggest incentive was the experience of far better than the norm take out lunches over the last 2 years from this location.  I ambled over frankly to check if this gift card was still good as I believe it was purchased possibly 1.5 years ago.

While it was only one dish,  the breadth of the menu is indeed extraordinary, and it has been well over a decade since I last ate in a CF, the lunch was fine, the serving size was quite ample for the price and the quality was above average, if not exquisite.  I have not the slightest interest in always dining at the most inventive and unique local restaurants and would happily return.  If all the meals were of this quality I'd be happy with value.

In my case I ordered the somewhat smaller "lunch special" chicken piccata.  Having grown up in the center of old traditional Italian American cuisine I've had either veal or chicken piccata (it's less exquisite, less tasty, less expensive version ) probably hundreds of times.  It's a dish where when inspired I prepare a reasonably good version.

The CF version falls squarely in the middle of what I've had so often over so many decades in so many restaurants.  Its a perfectly fine version with a "safe" not too exciting or venturesome sauce.  The lunch time version was more than amply sized, perfectly finely sliced (possibly pounded) to provide the appropriate cutlet thinness, cooked appropriately, and covered with what I would describe as a safe but adequately fine sauce.  It came with a traditional serving of angel hair pasta nicely done.  All in all a fine dish and nice value for the meal.  I have no idea of the size of the dinner version of this dish, but if substantially larger it would end up being taken home for leftovers.  

Next I need to reward our staff with a group takeout and pick up a cheesecake.   I look forward to it.

Okay and then there is the other side of the story, AKA how to blow about $60/person on remarkably mediocre food and drink.  We sort of overate as you can get out of there for much much less...heck its a moderate priced chain.

so still working my way through a large CF gift card a friend and I had dinner and drinks there the other night.  We had some drinks, 2 mains, bread(that was reasonably good)  cheesecake and after dinner drinks.   I have Minimal CF experience-my friend hadn't been there in forever.   My gut is we ordered poorly off of that incredibly large menu.  Neither dish was good, one Mexican themed, one chicken pasta themed.  The cheesecake wasn't really good.  The wine was mediocre.   I thought the coffee was fine. 

pfft. 

I've discovered I'll still go back.  I suppose one has to hunt peck and take recommendations for what is better/acceptable on that menu.

 

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I just can't fathom how so many menu items can be executed in a professional kitchen. Most of them have to be pre-made and heated a la minute.

Then comes the "Why?" Why do restaurants like Cheesecake Factory (and GARG) want to peddle us a Cajun Pasta? They don't serve that kind of crap in Louisiana. Why mix Italian, Asian, Continental, and supposedly American on one menu, and expect any kind of real "from scratch" out of the kitchen?

I personally wouldn't set foot in the place, but then, they make a lot of money from people who eat instead of dine. I couldn't figure out Rainforest Cafe either, but my kids loved it.

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1 hour ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I just can't fathom how so many menu items can be executed in a professional kitchen. Most of them have to be pre-made and heated a la minute.

Then comes the "Why?" Why do restaurants like Cheesecake Factory (and GARG) want to peddle us a Cajun Pasta? They don't serve that kind of crap in Louisiana. Why mix Italian, Asian, Continental, and supposedly American on one menu, and expect any kind of real "from scratch" out of the kitchen?

I personally wouldn't set foot in the place, but then, they make a lot of money from people who eat instead of dine. I couldn't figure out Rainforest Cafe either, but my kids loved it.

The Cajun Pasta is my go to meal there. It's pretty good. 

Of course it's not in any way authentic, but who cares? 

It's a great place to go with a family when everyone wants something different, they're amazingly consistent (for better or worse), they have big portions and cheery service. That's what many people look for when they dine. 

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I've always thought there's a time and place for CF.  But then they put the calorie counts on the menu.  Now, I always knew they would be astronomical, but something about seeing them in print... I just can't do it.  And whoever gave the light menu the name 'Skinnylicious' should be banned from any sort of marketing ever again.

I have no idea how they get 1,340 calories into an entree of Miso Salmon, but daaaaaaaamn.

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12 minutes ago, genericeric said:

I have no idea how they get 1,340 calories into an entree of Miso Salmon, but daaaaaaaamn.

Well, giant portions. :) That said, I always figured CF's calorie counts are probably the most accurate out there. They seem super high, but that's probably true. 

The ones that always amazed me were the salads. You think salads are "healthy" but...

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1 hour ago, TheMatt said:

Well, giant portions. :) That said, I always figured CF's calorie counts are probably the most accurate out there. They seem super high, but that's probably true. 

The ones that always amazed me were the salads. You think salads are "healthy" but...

Stick to the SkinnyLicious menu for more reasonable calorie counts.  It also wards off the headache that ensues when you try to read through the hundreds of items on the full menu.

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19 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I just can't fathom how so many menu items can be executed in a professional kitchen. Most of them have to be pre-made and heated a la minute.

Then comes the "Why?" Why do restaurants like Cheesecake Factory (and GARG) want to peddle us a Cajun Pasta? They don't serve that kind of crap in Louisiana. Why mix Italian, Asian, Continental, and supposedly American on one menu, and expect any kind of real "from scratch" out of the kitchen?

I personally wouldn't set foot in the place, but then, they make a lot of money from people who eat instead of dine. I couldn't figure out Rainforest Cafe either, but my kids loved it.

The above are good questions.  They seem antithetical to the predominate nature of this forum which is focused on the quality of the food among other things.  OTOH they are possibly key questions for the management at chain restaurants, who are populated by food and beverage professionals thinking about the issues from a different angle.  The question about mixing Italian, Asian, Continental and American confounds me.  

But it must make sense for the chain restaurant professionals.  Its a different way of addressing the issues.  CCF does serve a lot of people and makes a lot of money.  That counts for something. 

I'll add this:  with a sizable free gift certificate for CCF I recently ate there for the first time in ages;  found one or two things I liked and gobbled my way through that gift certificate, along with supplying our bartending school with some cheesecakes.  Additionally with all the local places that last for a period and then crash and die, there are skills in the industry that mean a lot outside of kitchen skills.  CCF has mastered some of them and for a long period.

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CF has historically been one of the worst restaurants to work for.

It earned a spot on a list of establishments with zero ratings in 2012 according to ROC United.

https://rocunited.org/2012/06/yahoo-news-the-worst-restaurants-to-work-for/

So the next time you go to a place like CF, consider that the $ you spend impacts a great deal more than just the restaurant's bottom line.

---

I have a cousin who lives in the middle of *gag* Kansas who thinks The Cheesecake Factory is manna from heaven. (We're no longer on speaking terms, for reasons I probably can't get into due to board rules.)

There's no accounting for taste, is there?

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7 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

There is, but it's usually pro-forma accounting.

I just don't get it. Millions if not billions of dollars a year spent on eating pure indifference -- Cheesecake Factory, Applebee's, Olive Garden, Chili's, TGI Friday's, and on and on and on....

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23 minutes ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I just don't get it. Millions if not billions of dollars a year spent on eating pure indifference -- Cheesecake Factory, Applebee's, Olive Garden, Chili's, TGI Friday's, and on and on and on....

Some people will only drive a BMW or equivalent  Others are happy with a KIA.  Not everyone is passionate about food, but recognize they must eat to live.  Frankly, in many locations dining options are severely limited.

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2 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

I just don't get it. Millions if not billions of dollars a year spent on eating pure indifference -- Cheesecake Factory, Applebee's, Olive Garden, Chili's, TGI Friday's, and on and on and on....

And a lot of the people eating at those places don't get people like us spending hundreds of dollars for a meal. 

To each his own. 

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2 hours ago, dcs said:

Some people will only drive a BMW or equivalent  Others are happy with a KIA.  Not everyone is passionate about food, but recognize they must eat to live.  Frankly, in many locations dining options are severely limited.

There was a point a while ago where most fine dining experiences I had were disappointing.  Was it me or the food or restaurant.  I'm not sure.  I don't believe I wrote negatively about the experiences.  It soured me for a period on fine dining.  A relatively lot of money for disappointing results.  I reverted to less esteemed restaurants and focused on comfort food.

That being said, CCF falls into a vast, really an enormous world of "okay" dining.   The dining experience, service could be terrific.  The company could be great.  The talk and drinks and vibe could be wonderful.  Frankly whenever the last sentence hits I'm usually pleased as could be.  OTOH I have experienced fine dining with great dining partners wherein the chatter and spirit were so terrific the wonderful meal got lost in the environment.

Overall though when you look at the sums spent on less than great food--well it meets what the "public" wants.    

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We were driving thru Tennessee and had to stop for gas. We chose the highway exit that was marked as being the home of the Jan & Dean Birthplace plaque or the world's Biggest Ball of String or some such wonder.  

We pulled into the gas station and not wanting to make a meal of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and ice cream, we asked if there were good restaurants around and were told yes... The beaming woman told us all the good restaurant's were close by... KFC, McDs, Burger King and Cracker Barrel.  We pulled out of the station, shaking our heads, and had to proceed away from the highway to find a place to turn around. When we did, we ran smack into Adele's. It was an old ramshakle farmhouse and the walls were filled with old fashion stove top toasters.  Also a tabe of old local gentlemen telling stories.  The menu was classic short order and I remember we had a wonderful meal. Sausages, eggs, toast of course, biscuits etc.  It probably took a year off our life expectancy.  ANd it cost about $10.

I am sure that women at the gas station would have loved to have a Cheese Cake Factory in her little town.  We never found Jan and Dean's ball of string though.  

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3 hours ago, deangold said:

We were driving thru Tennessee and had to stop for gas. We chose the highway exit that was marked as being the home of the Jan & Dean Birthplace plaque or the world's Biggest Ball of String or some such wonder.  

We pulled into the gas station and not wanting to make a meal of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and ice cream, we asked if there were good restaurants around and were told yes... The beaming woman told us all the good restaurant's were close by... KFC, McDs, Burger King and Cracker Barrel.  We pulled out of the station, shaking our heads, and had to proceed away from the highway to find a place to turn around. When we did, we ran smack into Adele's. It was an old ramshakle farmhouse and the walls were filled with old fashion stove top toasters.  Also a tabe of old local gentlemen telling stories.  The menu was classic short order and I remember we had a wonderful meal. Sausages, eggs, toast of course, biscuits etc.  It probably took a year off our life expectancy.  ANd it cost about $10.

I am sure that women at the gas station would have loved to have a Cheese Cake Factory in her little town.  We never found Jan and Dean's ball of string though.  

This is something of a legendary post.

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56 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

This is something of a legendary post.

I'm still partial to this one

"Der Risotto zum Nibelungen {The Risotto Ring for Nibbling}

First make a ring powerful enough to rule the universe. Next, pull a sword out of a handy ash tree growing thru the floor of your lover’s husbands house and use it to kill your lovers husband and cut 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into small pieces. You first sweat 1/2 cup onion in 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil till they are translucent and sweet, but not browned. Use high enough heat to get some sizzle but do not brown the butter either. 

Heat 3-1/2 cups of broth: veggie, chicken, meat, fish, etc. As the onions are done, raise the heat and add 2 cups Carnaroli rice picked by the Po Virgins {See Wagner’s epic the Ring of the Risotti for a full explanation}. Stir the rice so it does not burn and “toast” it in the butter/oil. It will take about as much time for the rice to toast as it takes Furtwangler to lead the Vienna Orchestra the Ride of Die Valkyrie, which you should be listening to as you do this

It will first look oily and “clump together” then it will turn white and seem to be separate grains. Finally it will take on just a hint of color and then you add 1 cup white wine. Keep the heat high until the alcohol boils off then reduce the heat till the liquid just barely bubbles. Stir as necessary so the rice does not stick. When the liquid is almost all absorbed, add a generous half cup of broth and stir. Don’t add too much, you do not want the river Rhine to overflow and put out the flames. Stir a couple of more time as the liquid is absorbed. Repeat each time with a little less broth. 

With each addition, the liquid will be absorbed and a little creamy starch will extrude. You want to wait to add the next ladle of broth until all the liquid is absorbed and there is just crema left. To mere mortals, the crema appears to be a liquid, but with enough repeated listenings to the Ring, you will be able to distinguish the leitmotif of the crema from that of the broth. Or you could just go and kill a dragon and taste a drop of its blood and you will understand the language not only of the birds, but of the rice. 

Taste the rice as you go. It will go from crunchy to soft with a chalky center to soft all the way thru but a little dry to almost creamy. As soon as it reached this point, spread the grains out on a sheet pan in a uniform layer. Do not press them down as they are as delicate as virgins {think Siegfried who was a virgin until the late third act of the third opera of the ring when he met his Aunt, but I digress}. Take a wooden {Wotan} spoon and draw diagonal lines in the rice to make channels for better cooling. When cool, gently form into a funeral pyre and burn Valhalla and all the gods with it. 

If you get hungry after all this, take a piece of butter and melt in the pan. Add some of the rice and a ladle full of stock. Stir until the risotto is heated thru and the stock is almost completely absorbed. Add a handful of grana, Parmigianno or whatever. 

If you want a flavored risotto, heat your flavorings {ie cooked Hubbard squash, or a saute of mushrooms or a spoon of Bolognese or a big handful of small clams etc} before adding the rice."

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15 hours ago, deangold said:

We were driving thru Tennessee and had to stop for gas. We chose the highway exit that was marked as being the home of the Jan & Dean Birthplace plaque or the world's Biggest Ball of String or some such wonder.  

We pulled into the gas station and not wanting to make a meal of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and ice cream, we asked if there were good restaurants around and were told yes... The beaming woman told us all the good restaurant's were close by... KFC, McDs, Burger King and Cracker Barrel.  We pulled out of the station, shaking our heads, and had to proceed away from the highway to find a place to turn around. When we did, we ran smack into Adele's. It was an old ramshakle farmhouse and the walls were filled with old fashion stove top toasters.  Also a tabe of old local gentlemen telling stories.  The menu was classic short order and I remember we had a wonderful meal. Sausages, eggs, toast of course, biscuits etc.  It probably took a year off our life expectancy.  ANd it cost about $10.

I am sure that women at the gas station would have loved to have a Cheese Cake Factory in her little town.  We never found Jan and Dean's ball of string though.  

I agree with Don, this is a classic post.

It's not about Cheesecake Factory versus fine dining, it's about corporate indifference and mediocre quality versus good food served with care and conviction. A meal at Cheesecake Factory and a meal at Corduroy or Bub and Pop's or District Commons might not be too far apart in price, but the quality of the meal is so much better. And so it is with Adele's.

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20 hours ago, dcs said:

Some people will only drive a BMW or equivalent  Others are happy with a KIA.  Not everyone is passionate about food, but recognize they must eat to live.  Frankly, in many locations dining options are severely limited.

Hey, I drive a Kia!  The money saved is spent on food :D

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On 8/23/2019 at 7:09 AM, Kibbee Nayee said:

I agree with Don, this is a classic post.

It's not about Cheesecake Factory versus fine dining, it's about corporate indifference and mediocre quality versus good food served with care and conviction. A meal at Cheesecake Factory and a meal at Corduroy or Bub and Pop's or District Commons might not be too far apart in price, but the quality of the meal is so much better. And so it is with Adele's.

Having been to District Commons a few times over the last year, I'd say I enjoyed my meals at Cheesecake Factory more

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I bet they get a better reception from their landlords than many an independent restaurant will get from theirs.

When you owe someone a little, that's a debt. When you owe them a lot, that's a partnership.

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