The British love affair with Cheesecake Factory
When we first moved back to California from the U.K. more than a decade ago, we had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square in San Francisco. It kind of epitomized everything that was American – unapologetic, calorie-laden decadence detailed in a really long, laminated menu. It felt like a world-is-your-oyster kind of place. You want pasta? Steak? Omelette? Pizza? Burger? Sandwich? Seafood? Salad? You can get it here. Oh yeah, and of course, there’s over two dozen different types of cheesecake. There is simply nothing like it in the U.K.
But for me, the Cheesecake Factory ship has sailed. I have nothing against the Cheesecake Factory, but it no longer holds the appeal that it once had. We had no official falling out. It’s just become this kind of American dining experience (like TGI Friday’s, Applebee’s, Sizzler, Outback Steakhouse) that I avoid (not because I am snob, although if the shoe fits …), but because there are so many amazing independently owned restaurants in San Francisco, I couldn’t imagine eschewing them all in favor of a stop at a chain restaurant like the Cheesecake Factory.
And yet, everytime we have friends visiting from the U.K., without fail, they suggest dining there. These are friends that don’t know each other. Relatives that don’t know the friends. No common connection except for their Britishness. But they’re all on the same British Cheesecake Factory bandwagon. They don’t ask about any of the other chains, mind you. They save their love for Cheesecake Factory.
And so when we heard that our friends from Nottingham were visiting San Francisco this past weekend, we started thinking of restaurants where we could meet, ACF (Anywhere but Cheesecake Factory). We opted for a brunch spot called BDK in the Tenderloin – which was great because it was close to their hotel and we could book reservations so no wait. Plus, they had smoked ham and brie pop tarts on the menu.
As it turned out, our friends had already been to the Cheesecake Factory on this trip. Six days in and they had already been twice, in fact! The first time, one of our friends thinks he got food poisoning and still, he went back!
What is it with Brits and the Cheesecake Factory?! It’s truly a phenomenon that may require further investigation. Are you a Brit that loves Cheesecake Factory? What’s the allure? Inquiring minds want to know. I want to know.