The Cheesecake Factory is a chain that’s hard to hate. Sure it’s a ubiquitous shopping mall fixture with a menu so ridiculously huge that it comes spiral-bound, but that’s also its very appeal: It’s an ideal place to take a big group because there’s literally something everyone will eat, and there’s one in practically every major city and suburb— including Queens, where the company debuted its first NYC location yesterday. And unlike, say, Applebee’s or Olive Garden, the monstrous portions of food tend to actually taste good.
Plus, who doesn’t love dining whilst surrounded by towering, classy AF faux-Tuscan pillars? Drake even set one of his recent music videos there.
Broadly just published an in-depth interview with the chain’s founder and CEO David Overton and vice president Linda Candioty, and there are some intriguing insights into the chain’s history and operations — such as the fact that those aforementioned pillars were inspired by bathhouses. Here now, 10 takeaways from Broadly’s oral history of the Cheesecake Factory:
- The Cheesecake Factory is highly secretive: No “outsiders” are allowed in the test kitchen, meaning we sadly may never witness how they come up with stuff like Buffalo Blasts and Crispy Chicken Costoletta.
- The restaurant has been busy from day one: Speaking of the very first location that opened in Beverly Hills in 1978, Candioty says, “They were waiting in line in front of our restaurant. I cannot explain it. We opened and were busy from the first moment.”
- Before Drake’s music video, there was Kris Jenner’s: The Kardashian matriarch filmed a really terrible music video back in the 80s that name-drops the restaurant.
- Even Sylvester Stallone has trouble getting a table sometimes: Says Candioty: “Sylvester Stallone came in, and I seated him, and he wanted that table by the window, but I had people waiting. I said, ‘I can't give it to you. Come back in a half hour.’”
- The restaurant decor is inspired by bathhouses: Overton saw Egyptian-style pillars in a bathhouse and loved them, saying, “I wanted something timeless.”
- The chain has its fair share of obsessed superfans: They include a retired couple named Chuck and Odette who have been dining at the restaurant for 30 years and eat there an incredible 10 to 12 times a week.
- Those perfect whipped cream swirls on top of the cheesecake slices? They aren’t squirted out of an aerosol can, but rather dispensed from something resembling a soft-serve ice cream machine. Fancy.
- They’re champions in the anti-food waste movement: The chain has “a computerized system that allows them to predict what people will eat and throw out less than five percent of food they purchase.”
- Incredibly, the entire massive menu is made in-house daily: That’s 250 menu items, plus 70-plus different sauces and dressings.