The Cheesecake Factory gets a second chance

Still crazy after all these months.

Still crazy after all these months.

After the bad shrimp scampi with clumped pasta and awful sauce, bitter and hard lettuce core, burned fry, dirty utensils, harsh ambulance lighting from the window, et al, what, you ask, would bring my dear wife Karen and I back to the Cheesecake Factory in the mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Detiny USA in our hometown of Syracuse, N.Y.?

If you don’t remember how aghast that trip left Karen, my wonderful daughter Elisabeth, her terrific boyfriend George and I, here’s the link to that story from last April. It stirred up many comments about the chain, from people who love it and people who say not-so-much.

Why, the answer to that question above would be: Two $25 gift cards from son Daryl, and the hopes of clear sailing and improved performance last Saturday after we caught a 2 p.m. matinee of “Mortdecai.” That and my forgiving soul and the wish to see if maybe all the comments favoring The Cheesecake Factory on last year’s story were correct.

Nah, it was mostly the gift cards.

Well, amends were mostly made.

You can read about it in my weekly community blog column today for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org by clicking the link below.

http://waer.org/post/cheesecake-factory-earns-second-chance-points

Are you likely to give a place a second chance after a bad dining experience, or cross it off the list forever? Can you share a story about a less than perfect restaurant trip that was somehow turned around? Are you willing to wait 30 minutes for a table at 4:10 in the afternoon, or would you walk on down to another joint?

62 thoughts on “The Cheesecake Factory gets a second chance

  1. I never have been to a Cheesecake Factory. I have no personal animus for the Cheesecake Factory I just usually shun Big Food Factories the way long tailed cats shun rocking chairs. Maybe one of these days I might go to one. After all they do have Cheesecake. Glad they redeemed themselves. A lot of folks don’t believe in second chances.

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    • I was so excited about the first visit because of the build up on TV. And it was horrible. Dumb me, believing snippets on a TV sitcom. The food was good this time, though, Benson, although I understand your rocking chair-long-tailed cat analogy with all the great local joints in Indianapolis. There was a lively local-vs.-chain exchange after my first review. My take is that I want to patronize both to satisfy my curiosities.

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      • That is great. Corporate joints have a place in the market. They are great places to learn and they have been spearheads for innovation and since most,if not all are public they can help out a 401 K. I have worked Corporate before. I just like to cheer for Ma & Pa places. I enjoy going to a joint called Kilroys sometimes on Mondays. Why? Three dollar craft pints and $3 Jameson. I believe in helping the economy any way I can. So how is their cheesecake?

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  2. We just visited the CF in Richmond a few weeks ago and had a terrific meal. We both ordered dinner salads and they were delicious. I am very unlikely to visit a restaurant for a second chance if I’ve had a bad experience partly due to just how many great restaurants are around us. The competition is tough and it seems a restaurant has one chance only to capture you.

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    • Tough judge, Barbara. The gift cards, of course, were a big reason for this second chance, as were the people who loved it, as you stated about your visit to your CF in Richmond. So I’m glad I went. Both positions have merit.

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  3. The Cheesecake Factory is very controversial in these parts, Mark. My sister loves it. Michael hates it. I have mixed feelings. No mixed feelings about your writing here. I shall make the trip now to your other locale.

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  4. The first time we went to the Cheesecake Factory my husband’s pasta was undercooked but all the rest of our meals were fine. Although it may have bothered me, had it been my meal, it didn’t bother him too much and the rest of us liked it. Personally, I’m not very big on food but what I do really like is dessert, particularly chocolate, which the Cheesecake Factory has lots of, in huge quantities and interesting varieties, and that is enough to keep me coming back right there!

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    • Chocolate wins the day for a lot of people, particularly women people, I notice, Marissa, and I think the Cheescake Factory is very wise in “lots of, in huge quantities and interesting varieties.”

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      • Yes, that’s true! Sometimes I do think their portions are too big. They could scale down the portion size a bit and maybe keep the prices a little lower…except of course in the dessert area! I mean, can you make that portion of pasta a bit smaller so I can make room for that huge piece of chocolate cake?!!!

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  5. I think I said last time that the one here has been open for several years now, but there is always a wait. 30 minutes if you are lucky. The food can be hit or miss, though the cheesecake is always good. I am glad your second time around went well. πŸ˜€

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  6. We don’t have the Cheesecake Factory in Canada, but every time I’ve seen one while visiting the States, I’ve eaten there. I’ve never had a bad experience there and have always really enjoyed my meal Mark. So sorry that you have had one. *note: US restaurants dish out really huge portions of food.*

    We have a Harley Davidson diner in Inglewood. It looks like a place from the 50s. The first time I tried it, it was awesome. The food tasted liked Mom had cooked it. Then they changed ownership or cooks or something and the food no longer tasted as good as before, or even good enough to be consumed by the public. I never went back. I would like to think I would give a restaurant a second chance but I guess I didn’t…

    Diana xo

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    • I’m glad that every Cheesecake Factory experience has been good to you, Diana. Yay. And yes, portions there and in many places here are very large. In the day, I scarfed it all down. Now I take home leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Or Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle, at least.

      I am surprised that you haven’t been curious to see if maybe that cook whose food you loved in the diner was off or out sick that second time you visited. You know? You seem to be a person who gives a grace period to folks. πŸ™‚ ❀

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  7. I’ve eaten at a couple of Cheesecake factories (once in CA, once in Buffalo NY, and once in Rochester NY) and I have been underwhelmed every time by the food and the ambiance. Too loud to enjoy a decent conversation, the food (while abundant) lacked anything that would lend itself to wanting to go back, but the cheesecake itself is good. And it was gift cards that sent us back two more times as well. πŸ™‚

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  8. I would give a restaurant a second chance if it wasn’t that great the first time around and others have had more positive experiences. But if I end up with food poisoning after eating at a particular restaurant, something that has happened to me twice in the past year, I will never, ever go back to that restaurant. Never. Ever.

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  9. Glad you had a better experience second time around. Free meals are never to be passed up, even if the quality isn’t quite where you want it. I’m not a fan of the big chains, so try to avoid. Your description of your first meal at CF is spot-on for every meal I’ve ever had at Applebee’s. Am afraid I’m fairly snobby about restaurants (which drives my husband nuts, though I’d like to think it’s also given him better dining experiences πŸ˜‰ ). Chains mostly get a big thumbs-down and I’m always looking for the smaller independents. Which I’m certain I’ve rambled on about here before, so will spare you the sermon. I just like knowing that the person making my food cares. And I don’t imagine the young guns behind the stove at the big chains care all that much about food quality. ‘Cause corporate is corporate. Ooops, sorry, I did sermonize. My bad.

    But again: FREE MEAL. That is thumbs-up. πŸ™‚

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    • How high up was the soap box? Hahahaha. My space is your space, Liz. Here’s what I think, as devil’s advocate. Jobs are so hard to come by, the young guns at the chains know they have to cook their young buns off to someday, some way get a better job at a tonier independent place somewhere down the line in their career. Maybe do I have a point?

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      • Yes, absolutely. If they are there to really cook, bring it on no matter where. I am talking about places where the people making food don’t care. Not even in their field, just to pay the bills. And even then you could care. Just seems as if smaller places are more inventive and quality is there. When not tues by corporate apron strings. As you know, feel the same way about movies. And music. You gotta care.

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  10. Redemption! I give second chances, but have to wait a buffer period. We had a bad experience New Year’s Day, so we will wait until Feb to try Serrano’s again. I rather liked Bang Bang last time I had it. Karen did not? Glad she swooned over the brownie. Sorry you were over-Splenda’d. I spoke to a Cheesecake Factory waitress (who also worked at Olive Garden) two weeks ago, and she said they had to memorize over 400 items in that novel of a menu. Yeesh!

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    • Karen did not like the Bang Bang chicken and shrimp, which surprised us, because we’ve both tried that style at other places and loved the spice kick. You never know. We gave CF nine months between visits for them to straighten out their act and us to straighten out our attitudes. And Yeesh is the exact word for a menu with 400 items on it. How can they possibly keep the stuff fresh? Oh, yeah, hour-long waits of people buying food every dang night.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Glad you took another chance, Mark. I enjoy the salads and sandwiches there, along with of course, dessert to go! Never have enough room to eat it there! Also~ happy it was a good experience!

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  12. glad you tried again, i’m a big believer in the proverbial second chance. it sounds like you had a better experience this time. i know when a restaurant opens, it works best when the begin with a soft opening, getting ready to go live and with a full house. not every restaurant does that, and it shows when they don’t )

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  13. I’m more willing to give a place a second chance regarding bad food or even bad service, than I am to wait long periods of time for a table. I seem to have little patience for waiting. Long waits won’t keep me from coming back, but I’d rather go some place else than wait around. Repeated bad food or poor service will keep me from coming back, but I’ll give a place second chances.

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    • You do not seem like much of a waiter, MDB Colleen. Waiterer. Wait-arounder. It does not seem to me like you are the type to sit around much, my dear buddy Colleen. You do seem like the second-chance type, and also the do-not-foot-me-a-third-time type. So you are voicing things that come through in all of your blog posts and comments, in my long-winded way, is what I am saying! πŸ™‚

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  14. We Aussies always visit this place when we visit Hawaii and it is always awesome. Me personally I love the crab wonton thingies. πŸ™‚

    We also love Bubba Gumps. πŸ™‚

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  15. The only Cheesecake Factory that I have ever not hated as far as service and wait times was the one in Rhode Island. The one in Buffalo comes in second to that one. No, I don’t usually like to give restaurants a second chance, UNLESS I’ve been a long time customer and they screw up only the once. If I’m pretty new and they mess up, or they mess up more than once, that’s my last visit, even including gift cards. Now my question for you is, don’t the kids read your blog? If so, why did Daryl want you to go back? Maybe, like me, he just loves cheesecake and wanted to share the love! πŸ™‚

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  16. Pingback: Getting At The Truth | The Other Bottom Line

  17. well I wish I had time to read every comment here – whew – maybe later I will – but glad you gave it a second chance – and glad that it was better. For us, we used to love the CF in the 1990’s. but now -not at all. I think they were better back then – but the last two times we went there sauces were over buttered and lacked much. not so much clumpy for us – but just greasy and we even got a dish to go for my son and it was not liked by him. so we do not go anymore – and too bad too because the atmosphere is great. but just seems like they did not adapt with the times regarding healthy ingredients.
    and we are willing to gibe a place a second chance, but then it depends on what the fail was the first time – and well, I can see why you went back – the gift cards and the feedback from others…
    peace

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