Oh, The Cheesecake Factory. An extremely underrated experience in my opinion. Ever location is a magical place with 21 pages of food, with two more pages if you’re feeling skinny. A truly unique spot, boasting 30 different types of cheesecake any given night. Families, kids, and tweens swoon. The Cheesecake Factory, to many, is Moroccan nights meets Mall Chic. Usually located between a Bloomingdales and a massive mall parking lot (mhm Chestnut Hill…) The Cheesecake Factory is hard to miss. And, chances are, it’s hard to believe that you will ever be too far from one of its 195 locations. So, how can you not be intrigued? Everyone has their own experience, opinions and story of their relationship with The Cheesecake Factory (if you do not, it is surely coming). Here is mine.
Where it all began…
I walk into the dimly lit restaurant, surrounded by large gold pillars and twirling cheesecakes in a lit up showcase, and immediately flashback to when I was 13 years old. I’m a tween and it’s my birthday. I just opened my birthday present, a Hollister floral skater skirt and an Abercrombie knit sweater that I can’t wait to wear later. I’m taking my 5 best friends to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner tonight, and all is right in the world. This is THE place to go. Tables that look like thrones, and shirley temples that look like cocktails. My mom and dad are sitting at the high top tables at the bar chaperoning. My best friend told me she “has to go to the bathroom,” and sneaks away through the winding aisles to whisper to our waiter, “its my friends birthday today.” I knew she wasn’t peeing all along, but act very surprised anyways when the waiters come over. I get a free scoop of ice cream and the waiters all crowd around to sing “Happy Birthday from the Cheeeeeeesecake!”
Truly nothing else compares.
This is the epitome of The Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant that mirrors the vibe of bougie and exclusive for the believers, yet is quite the opposite. Its the go to if you’re shopping at the mall and you cant get yourself to actually eat at the Sbarro or Panda Express in the food court. It is a dining experience that just doesn’t need to be that fancy, but feels higher class with the choices at hand. I’m a sucker for it though. I love the food. I love the massive sized sodas I order. I love the warm bread and butter they bring to the table when you first sit down. I love the display case housing all the cheesecake, sliced and ready to be whisked to tables. The menu, food, drinks, cakes, and incredibly long wait time to get a table is truly iconic.
The food! The portions! The atmosphere!
If im being completely honest, The Cheesecake Factory is my guilty pleasure. The four cheese pasta with shrimp, avocado spring rolls, cookies and cream cheesecake, and fried mac and cheese balls are like nothing else. It’s homestyle bar food, with a greasy gourmet twist. It is large plates that you could easily binge, it is cheesy, salty, and seasoned to satisfy a craving, rather than a lavish palette. I find myself craving the Cheesecake experience because I crave the excitement of seeing the massive portions come down the maze of aisles that make up the restaurant. The Cheesecake Factory is not one for the faint of appetite, but for those who plan on ordering at least 3 things because you absolutely have to. How could anyone skip out on an appetizer or a cheesecake dessert? Despite the actuality of how not cool and fancy the restaurant is, to me, it alludes excitement and the satisfaction of being so damn hungry when you show up that the food hits the spot so well.
Love survives hardship.
The vibe of the restaurant brings my dining experience, usually matched with a bum outfit and hangry appetite, to a strong 10. My friends cringe when I suggest the idea of going to the mall for dinner, insisting that we have all of Boston to see, asking why would we go ever to The Cheesecake Factory. I usually end up having to convince my family a lot of the times. My grandma tagged along once. She’s pretty set in her ways, bougie and old school, always dressing up for dinner no matter the location. Most importantly, she appreciates a true culinary experience. After dragging her to the Cheesecake Factory and raving about fried balls of mac and cheese, she orders a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The waiter carded my 85 year old grandma. “It’s policy, ma’am. We card everyone” he says. She nearly yelped, not sure if to be excited or offended. I’ve never heard her curse before in my life, but she let out a “Who the hell do they think they are” and took a massive sip of her cheap wine, disgusted that mac and cheese was now also being fried, and that she was “out to dinner” in a mall.
So, this magical place might not be for all. Some people might have grown out of the allure of it all: what seemed so enticing in young years now is just inconvenient, unnecessary, or too random. Some, like my grandma, might never be able to wrap their head around why people even bother in the first place. But that’s ok with me. I see The Cheesecake Factory as more than just the amazing food that comes along with it (everyone, whether they admit it or not, has something they loved from their meal). I have a special bond with the restaurant, a history with the space, one that I will never give up. If people want to hate me for it, go right ahead. I will stick up for it every time. And if that’s not love, I do not know what is.