Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cheesecake Factory - I just don't get it

Last night the plan had been to take the kids to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner in Columbia and then to see Symphony of Lights at Merriweather. We received a very nice gift card (for which we were very grateful)to the C.F. last year for Christmas so that was the main reason we had decided to go there over any other place. So, we left for dinner around 3:30 and arrived at 4:30. I knew the area would be crowded but hoped that the wait wouldn't be long since it was 4:30. I was wrong. When we got there, the waiting area was MOBBED and the wait for 4 adults and 2 kids was 25-40 minutes. So we waited 25 minutes and checked in again - at least 20-45 minutes, I was told. At least?????!!!!! I turned my restaurant pager in and we went next door to Chammp's - which had NO wait. (And we ended up sitting at the SAME table that we did in April 2002 when the men's basketball team won the championship!)

So it really got me to thinking, what is the DEAL w/ The Cheesecake Factory? I've been to two other locations once before and have never been that impressed. Sure, the portions are huge, but really nothing anymore impressive than any other restaurant chain across the country. And yes, the cheesecake selection is pretty good, but you can get really good cheesecakes at most good restaurants now - maybe not the huge variety, but still very good. (I had an EXCELLENT slice of pumpkin cheesecake at Chammps!) What is it about that place that makes people wait upwards of 90 minutes for a table? It can't be just about the cheesecake b/c you can buy that by the slice in the lobby. I just don't understand why people pack the place and will wait forever for it. Don't they realize they can get STELLAR food at many of the local establishments not too far away? I guess this is just something I don't get about Americans.

I think Jason and I have decided we're going to use our gift card just to buy some cheesecake and keep it in the freezer for later. Neither of us has the desire to wait that long for a table when there are lots of other truly good restaurants we'd rather go to.

And for the record, I don't get why the Cheesecake Factory doesn't take reservations. I understand when places like TGIFridays or Macaroni Grill won't, but when you notoriously have 1-2 hour waits, why not have reservations? Maybe b/c it's part of their allure? Yeah right. And not only that, why don't they make a bigger waiting area? The place was so cramped and was made worse by the fact that they had tables of holiday junk for sale. You'd think that with as much money as they spend on the overly ornate decor and architecture that they'd construct a waiting area that could hold their no-reservation waiting crowd a little better. I've seen larger waiting areas at Don Pablos. So trust me, you won't find me waiting in line there again.

Oh and the Symphony of Lights was cool. Caroline really enjoyed it!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Jay & I tried to go to the Chessecake Facory in Columbia on Friday night with some friends and the wait was 3 hours!!!!! Yeah a 3 freakin hour wait with a 1 year old - WHAT!!! I've only been to the one in Baltimore once and it was ok, but our friend LOVES this place, so we tried to go to please her. She didn't get her wish. It is so crazy if you ask me! I guess we won't beg going there as a family for years to come.

~ Viv

Katie said...

Darn, I'm sorry I missed you that night!

Totally agree about Cheesecake. The menu there is too big. It's too hard to decide.

We've been to the one in Columbia once and we went at 1:30pm on a weekday and only had a 15 minute wait.

We have a gift card too, but I don't know how or when to spend it.

Why don't they take reservations!!!