This post is sponsored by The Cheesecake Factory.
Renowned for their commitment to culinary excellence and the ability to surpass customers’ expectations year after year, The Cheesecake Factory is proudly celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. To commemorate this momentous occasion, they recently invited Inspirations & Celebrations to discover their recipe for success as one of the most popular restaurant chains in the country.
Last week I was warmly welcomed by their executive team for an exclusive tour of their Culinary Center at Headquarters in Calabasas, California and to accompany them for a new Fall menu tasting at their bustling Santa Monica restaurant.
The Cheesecake Way – Made Fresh From Scratch
Since launching the business in 1978, Founder David M. Overton has been leading the company to continued greatness through his attention to detail, perseverance, and passion to make memorable experiences for his customers each and every time they visit The Cheesecake Factory.
One could say that it all started with a big idea and the inspiration to make life sweeter for everyone.
Before The Cheesecake Factory opened, Overton worked at his parents’ wholesale cheesecake company. Overton acted as the salesperson, while his father handled the business affairs and his mother baked fresh cheesecakes. As Overton tried to sell the family’s wide variety of cheesecakes to various restaurants, he continually faced rejection by restaurateurs who said: “we don’t need more than one type of cheesecake on the menu”.
Well, Overton thought differently (and good thing, for us, that he followed his heart – or should I say stomach?!).
With the desire to introduce customers to more options, he opened the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills, California, offering guests a wide variety of cheesecakes, in addition to a full menu. Well, apparently he was onto something because customers devoured everything they served up!
Since then, he’s opened hundreds of successful locations across the USA, each of which has a warm and upscale atmosphere, a friendly, hospitable staff, and one of the largest menus you could possibly imagine.
As a hands-on founder, he still comes into the Culinary Center at headquarters every day to taste the new recipes that are being developed (some of which took 20 years to perfect – allowing them to finally go on the menu!).
He’s also meticulous about the music that’s played in the restaurants (as he wants his restaurants to consistently create an ambiance that’s relaxing for guests), so he’s hand-selected the playlists.
Plus, he’s always enthusiastic to offer customers more than they anticipate, so he’s constantly working with his executive culinary team to cook up new and exciting additions to the menu that debut twice a year.
This proactive form of leadership is one of the secret ingredients to The Cheesecake Factory’s success.
Since The Cheesecake Factory has been one of my family’s favorite restaurants to visit (we’ve been to the San Francisco, San Jose, and Beverly Hills locations multiple times), I was especially excited to go behind-the-scenes to learn more about what makes this chain so amazing.
After meeting their executive team (including Chief Culinary Officer Donald Moore), learning first-hand the story of their remarkable business, and getting a taste of what it’s like to be in the kitchen at the restaurant, I was more impressed than even expected.
To start the day, we were treated to Crispy Brussels Sprouts made fresh from scratch, which included roasted brussels sprouts and crispy leaves tossed with bacon and Vermont maple butter glaze.
After that, we tasted their popular Passion Fruit Mojito (which are made fresh with Don Q and Sailor Jerry Rums muddled with mint, lime and passion fruit).
After touring the Culinary Center (where we sampled some items and learned about their sustainability practices, how they source foods from mostly USA-based producers and invest in technology such as top quality machinery and computer systems that enable each restaurant to see recipes, photos, and videos of each dish for consistency purposes), we went to their Santa Monica restaurant to tour the kitchen and have a mouth-watering buffet lunch.
At the restaurant, we learned that the food and sauces are made fresh from scratch. Plus, they prep all the ingredients daily, including making the sauces each day (some of which take 4-5 hours to prepare!). This is all pretty astounding considering how large their menu is and the fact that they’re a chain with over 200 locations.
Plus, they get daily deliveries of fresh produce (and for any food that they don’t go through that day, they donate it to organizations that feed people in need), which proves how much of a conscientious-minded company they are.
Whether you’re in the mood for healthier dishes (like the Almond-Crusted Salmon Salad or the Impossible® Burger, which is a plant-based burger), or you want something rich and hearty (like their famous Avocado Eggrolls), there are over 250 options to choose from.
While everything we tasted was great, a few of my favorite items from the new Fall menu include:
- Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Salad
- Breakfast Tacos
- Peanut Butter & Banana Waffle
- Passion Mint Fizz (non-alcoholic drink)
Hopefully, this tantalizing preview of the new Fall menu gives you a taste of what’s happening at The Cheesecake Factory right now. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion (like a birthday or anniversary), or just want to have a memorable experience at a great restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory is definitely a must-visit.