The Quest.

I’m kind of ashamed of how many times I’ve eaten at The Cheesecake Factory, but obviously not so ashamed as to pretend it hasn’t happened. I never really plan to go there, it just… happens. It’s close to my house, it’s open late– it’s a problem.

One thing I do have to say is that while it’s grossly overpriced, the food is actually good. They have more than two vegetarian options on the menu, which is rare, and they have macaroni & cheese–fried.

These few positives, however, are squelched by the amazing number of negatives, which I will now list:

1. The decor, which was described by Cowboy/Ski-pole Country friend as “Latoya Jackson and the Cat Lady (Jocelyn Wildenstein) threw up.” It’s all muted, pastel tones that have a faux Egyptian vibe. It’s simply awful, and the walls are all hard plaster so there’s no sound absorption at all. Cowboy/Ski-Pole friend and I were seated at a table in a high-traffic area and it was so loud that we could not hear each other at all. It was like being at a high school basketball game with the way the sound of all the conversations bounced around. Just being in there made me feel tense and claustrophobic cause I felt like I was being yelled at and about to be stepped on at all times.

I don’t know if this is specific to the Cheesecake Factory in Providence (the loudness) because the only other one I’ve ever eaten at was in Minneapolis where we sat out on the patio with a lovely view of the parking lot and Barnes & Noble across the street. The interior decoration in that one were more like a tacky Versailles than an Egyptian oasis, but equally visually appalling.

2. The menu. As I already mentioned, I like that there are many vegetarian options, but there are just so many options of everything, that it’s overwhelming. Not only that, but the menu is full of advertisements. This is something that I find offensive and rude. They’re obviously getting money for these advertisements, yet this is one of the most expensive restaurants in Providence– clearly they’re not passing the savings on to me. Also, I have to look at the menu in order to decide what to order– I can’t ignore this advertising because it’s right in my face. It’s bad enough that I have to look at advertising as I drive down the street, go to the movies, or even use a public restroom; it should not part of a nice, relaxing meal.

This is something I feel so angry about that I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the company. This was what they sent back to me:

Thank you for e-mailing us regarding your dining experience at our Providence
Cheesecake Factory restaurant. I apologize that you were offended by the advertisements in our menu. For the past 20 years we have included advertisements to promote area businesses and to compliment our “book-style” menu. It was not our intention to offend you. I will certainly share your comments with our company executives.

The advertisements in the menu were not for local businesses, they were for exotic vacations, handbags, and jewelry. My other concerns about the restaurant having too many tables shoved into a space not big enough in a way that guarantees an unpleasant dining experience for many, were not addressed. It just goes to show that despite the heartfelt “Mom and Pop” story on the website– “Few people have achieved in their lifetimes what the Overtons accomplished during theirs. With a great deal of courage and determination, Oscar and Evelyn Overton realized their dream – to own a successful business.” Cheesecake Factory is very much a corporation where the only concern is turning over as many tables as they can and dulling the senses with too much, of everything.

Decor/atmosphere: 0. Awful.

Service: 4. I’ve never had a bad server at the Cheesecake Factory– clearly, they train them very well, but the flippant response to my legitimate complaint, and lying to me about the menu including local businesses pisses me off. “It was not our intention to offend you.”– of course it wasn’t, your intention was to make a few extra dollars at the expense of your patrons and hope no one would even notice. Advertising in a menu is unforgiveable.

Food: 8. The fried macaroni & cheese is delightful, as is everything I’ve eaten there, but it all has a very pre-fab taste to it– for obvious reasons.

Total: 12