As the Tucson food media, I was privy to be invited to a pre-Cheesecake Factory opening.
Here’s the scoop: The restaurant is huge; it seats 387 people. The district manager – David – who had the most amazing smile and dimples told me on the first day of taking applications, 700 were submitted and by week’s end 2,000. There are 100+ waitstaff, 18 dishwashers, 30 prep chefs plus hostesses, chefs, retail, and who knows what other positions. So there’s a whole lot of employment going on.
Having lived in Los Angeles for too many years, I am not new to the Cheesecake Factory but my guest, Jean, was.
The scale of the restaurant is huge by Tucson’s standards. I cannot think of a current restaurant that seems as big maybe Bamboo Club but I don’t think it’s quite as big. I tend to dine in more intimately scaled restaurants. The interior had a whimsical feel with pastel paisley insets, high ceilings with curved soffitry, cherrywood, cone shaped red splattered glass sconces outlined in curvy metal. There’s a heated patio, huge bar seating area, and the remaining banquettes, booths, and tables.
Since we were comped, our menu options were limited as not being able to chose from the 250 items on the real menu which was just as well.
I drank a glass of champagne for lunch and Jean opted for iced tea.
We were offered an appetizer and chose the Thai lettuce wraps. Unfortunately, the lettuce wraps didn’t arrive until after our entrees which meant I got to eat it for dinner.
Jean thoroughly enjoyed her flavorful tomato basil pasta and I liked the fiery Jamaican pepper shrimp with black beans, white rice, plantains, and mango salsa. Portions are huge. We both had leftovers. I definitely recommend sharing if that’s in your dining vocabulary.
This was a training session as is tomorrow. I don’t know what happens on Wednesday but Thursday, Feb. 4th at 5 p.m. is showtime. I don’t doubt that the Cheesecake Factory will be busy for a long time to come. They don’t take reservations.
This being a training session there were some flubs but that’s what training was all about and they more than made up for it in their acknowledgement of the mistake. As a diner, I feel mistakes are bound to happen; it’s how the staff deals with them is the difference between a good or bad restaurant. We needed to rate the service and the food and provide feedback. If you get our – Autumn (I wonder if that’s her real name?) — tell her we said complimentary things about her.
All the servers were dressed in white and the hostesses in black. Those little black dresses do come in handy. Servers also wore ties, of their choice, which added a dose of individuality to their stark white outfits. What I liked about the servers were they came in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages.
I chose not to eat dessert but Jean picked a low carb cheesecake and ate the whole thing.
The Cheesecake Factory is located in the Tucson Mall at 60 W. Wetmore Road near Macy’s, 888-3657.