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By Elena Kadvany

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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Cheesecake Factory Palo Alto to close

Uploaded: Apr 9, 2018
After more than a decade of serving its vast menu at 375 University Ave. in Palo Alto, The Cheesecake Factory will close in May.

Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations, said in a statement that the company decided to "terminate" its lease in Palo Alto. She declined to comment on why or when the lease was set to expire.


The Cheesecake Factory in downtown Palo Alto. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

The Cheesecake Factory's last day will be Saturday, May 26. Rowe said the company is working with the staff "to help transition them to other opportunities, including transfers to our other area restaurants."

The local outpost of the national chain opened in 2003.


Above: The Cheesecake Factory celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2004 with a Godiva chocolate cheesecake. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

Comments

 +   14 people like this
Posted by julie armitano, a resident of University South,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 11:49 am

julie armitano is a registered user.

Thats really sad.
I like it a lot.


 +   27 people like this
Posted by parent, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 1:05 pm

We are not opposed to having choices, but we never take our family to this restaurant. It has to be the least healthy choice in Palo Alto. We just hope that whatever replaces it is a family-friendly retail business, not a tech office building.


 +   20 people like this
Posted by Judy, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 1:35 pm

I'm sorry that many employees will loose their jobs, but I'm not sorry to see the restaurant go. I first ate at a Cheesecake Factory about 15 years ago in Arizona. The food was really good. Years later I ate at the Palo Alto location. I ordered the same item I'd eaten years earlier at the Arizona location but it tasted completely different. It tasted very processed and artificial, like a low quality frozen dinner. I think the restaurant chain has become too big and can't maintain the quality of the original restaurant. Good riddance, and I can't wait till the gaudy exterior is remodeled!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by G G Gone, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 2:13 pm

$15/hr..... but bye restaurants....

And for the “if they can't operate w lie giving a ______ wage they should do something else"

Yes, they are doing something else, as will future invested money!!


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Wow -- I will miss the Cheesecake Factory in Palo Alto! The restaurant is a bit pricey for the menu items that are offered; however, their cheesecake selection is fantastic and their "shepherd's pie" is very good!


 +   14 people like this
Posted by No Love Lost, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Never eaten there despite living in the neighborhood. We deserve better restaurants! Can we get something healthier, fresher, kid friendly and fun in it's place? Maybe they can revamp it with a great new restaurant plus a few stories of housing on top of it. That would be awesome


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Nancy, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Judy above nails it, poor quality.

I was excited when they first opened here having enjoyed the wide menu options, large portions and quality from their home market location in Bentwood (Los Angeles).

I gave this location so many chances but kept getting disappointed. From the stalk/chore of lettuce being in a sandwich (chicken avocado) to shrimp with the shell still on in jambalaya.

Gave it tens tries before I gave up. Had to pretend it wasn`t even there when deciding where to eat. That bad.



 +   2 people like this
Posted by MS, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 7:23 pm

The last 3 times we went there, we had waits of up to 30 minutes after we were seated for anyone to actually come around.
We stopped going.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Can it be zoned for housing? Nobody could make t work as a restaurant.?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 8:09 pm

A place where the food description on the menu was better than the execution. Tried it a few times wanted to like it and remember only disappointment. There are too many other decent places that are more reasonably priced. I never did understand how it survived. Sorry for the owners, but it's not a huge culinary loss locally.

That said, we never go downtown anymore if we can avoid it, ever since City Council let it become an office park.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 9:09 pm

That's too bad. I love to occasionally splurge on something that's 'good for me.' I really like their cheese cakes and I don't need to be such a purist all the time about my indulgences.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by ill-placed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 10:11 pm

The Cheesecake Factory on University Ave was so
ill-placed it was mind-boggling. That is the essence of what happened here. It was the worst possible outcome for that prime site imaginable.
It is a mall-based chain and it was plopped down on University Ave. There was no design modification to reflect its location yet it sailed right through the ARB with staff approval. After it opened on University Ave the next 50+ CAKES were in malls. It was almost 15 years ago and it symbolized and was a warning signal of a completely out of sync, dysfunctional City government aligned with local property owners with no parameters and that is exactly what we have gotten the last 15 years.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Never Impressed, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 7:59 am

Not disappointed that this chain is leaving.

Waits were long, food was mediocre at best, and staff not all that attentive.

In short, other than the over the top decor, the place was a glorified Howard Johnson's (without the awesome all you can eat fried clams on Friday).

The menu had advertisements for cars, watches, and ketchup. Laughable. It survived as long as it did because of the number of tourists (suckers) that would visit once.

Given the number of people willing to stand in line for its humdrum fare, a new restaurant with fresh food, toned down interior, and local ownership will do fine.

Parking was never a concern for this location as its right around the corner from the parking garage.

Now we need to make sure that the building is not removed for a 5 story max height modern office building with un-rentible first floor retail. That program is failing due to the obscene rents that Chop/Roxy/et.al. are asking for first floor retail. Downtown Los Altos and Mtn. View have a much more interesting retail environment. Very difficult to rationalize driving downtown for the current crop of retail disasters. Other than Evva, not really motivated to hassle with downtown.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 9:54 am

@ill-placed - Apparently, its location and design were so ill-conceived that it thrived for almost 15 years in a competitive downtown restaurant market! Clearly more government oversight was needed for its success.

Thanks for the attempt at a hot take.

I was not a fan of their food, but they must have been doing something right.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by ill-placed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:28 am

@Bob - It was ill-placed from a public policy
standpoint because of what it did to the University Ave streetscape - it destroyed it. Also at the time in 2003 the City was trying to promote retail Downtown, not more restaurants and this replaced Copeland's Sports. From a business standpoint CAKE peaked about the time it came into PA. It was known for 40 minute waits back then at its other locations.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Dennis, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 8:17 pm

The only thing more tasteless than their food is the building itself. It looks like it should house a gallery of McMansion photos.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Not a big fan, but one thing they were good for is a late night snack that's not typical fast food. It has been a go to place for an appetizer and a hot drink later in the evening and able to have conversation.

I think there is a need for somewhere to go and linger over something light late at night. We have plenty of happy hour places that are busy and often noisy, but a late night venue is harder to find.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Resident,

The way you describe yourself you are a terrible customer. Take up space but spend little money. A large restaurant will not stay in business in a Palo Alto with that kind of business model. The real estate costs are prohibitive.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Chris, a resident of University South,
on Apr 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm

I'm still waiting to hear feasible options for replacing it.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 1:50 am

I must have missed this when it got published. I am very sad
to hear this. We love to go there to get the Ahi Tuna Salad,
and have the strawberry shortcake for dessert.

No, it's not perfect, but in general it was a great option and
the food and desserts were mostly above average.

I have to think this is just another case of rents destroying the
ability of talented people and entrepreneurs to bring us, in
particular, good food from good restaurants.

Correct me if I am wrong, but most of Palo Alto's real estate
has been owned for a very long time and the taxes are lower
than they should be ... and still landlords are sticking it to all
of us in Palo Alto to squeeze every cent out until they get the
last penny out of the top dollar

But as they do that they are killing off some of the best
businesses in Palo Alto and making the town a useless
pointless mess that is no longer any fun to go to anymore.

I used to go downtown almost every night of the week to get
food, go to the movies, buy something or just enjoy the town.
I miss the movie theaters, the book stores, the restaurants.

So much great stuff that used to be in downtown Palo Alto
is gone and who remembers it now? A real shame.


 +   20 people like this
Posted by local guy, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:45 am

So now what are we going to do with that blight of a building that dropped out of a shopping mall and on to University Avenue.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:45 am

@Chris

I do not consider myself a terrible customer. Just one who appreciates something more than a crowded restaurant for a full meal during the dinner hour. Being able to have a light bite late at night while a restaurant is still finishing up diners still eating is something of value to many. Being able to get something other than fast food after a movie or a concert is a valuable resource to many.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Bob, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 10:31 am

The place was there generating taxes, providing jobs, and serving cheesecake for almost 15 years. For those reasons, it's a shame to see if go, even if we didn't all love the cuisine or the architecture. May the next tenant be as successful.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

I recall our late mayor Gary Fazino was angry that staff allowed this inappropriate restaurant to occupy such a key downtown location -- inappropriate both as to the nature of the business (third-tier mall restaurant) and incredibly ugly and ostentatious building).


 +   6 people like this
Posted by mper, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm


Hideous building, inside and out. Meh food. Overly huge portions. Prices out of line with quality.

What I loved about the Cheesecake factory? Cheesecake. To go.

Question is...what will replace it? Hopefully something we can all enjoy rather than yet another place for tech employees to work and eat.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by mper, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 1:20 pm

And in keeping with comments about what will replace the Cheesecake Factory:

We know that the landlords do it to maximize their return, but don't tech companies realize that once they push out and replace all of the local flavor, what remains, is what they were trying to escape in the first place...an office park. Just a thought from someone who used to patronize downtown PA and CA St. daily.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by cake, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:21 pm

I miss the days of going downtown to Just Desserts.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Loony Manny, a resident of Gemello,
on Apr 12, 2018 at 9:12 am

I would like to see a Dunkin Donuts store in there. LOL


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by JD Smithburger , a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 12, 2018 at 1:50 pm

How can they close!?! Our family bought our puppy there 10 years ago. He is still with us and is the most loved member of our family. This is a huge loss for Palo Alto and families who want to adopt. I think city council should be doing SOMETHING.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by zap, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Apr 12, 2018 at 3:47 pm

>The only thing more tasteless than their food is the building itself. It looks like it should house a gallery of McMansion photos.


Oh be nice, it looks just like Los Altos Hills


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Catherine, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde,
on Apr 12, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Maybe some industrious person will put a bunch of sleeping bags in there and charge $2500/month rent per bag:

"Luxury communal living in the heart of downtown. Desirable Palo Alto school district!"


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by snehapa, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Apr 13, 2018 at 7:37 am

snehapa is a registered user.

Hey Yeah, Hopefully, something we can all enjoy rather than yet another place for tech employees to work and eat.The only thing more tasteless than their food is the building itself. It looks like it should house a gallery of McMansion photos.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by John, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Apr 13, 2018 at 2:51 pm

They served nothing but high caloric junk food at outrageous prices. You are paying big money to have ongoing chronic health problems later in life - good riddance. Hopefully something healthier goes in there.

- John [Portion of post removed.]


 +   7 people like this
Posted by pogo, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Apr 14, 2018 at 9:28 am

pogo is a registered user.

This thread is a perfect example of different strokes for different folks. If enough people don't like a business, it closes. That's the way it's supposed to work and Cheesecake Factory is the latest example.

Not everything has to be healthy like Wahlburgers, Pizza My Heart or Jeffrey's. Not everything has to be inexpensive like Sundance, Evvia or Nobu. Not everything has to be fancy like Stacks or Peninsula Creamery.

If you don't like it, go elsewhere. We have LOTS of choices.

As for those who want to see this space become housing, the owner of the building probably has something to say about that.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by puja, a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Apr 14, 2018 at 10:11 am

I miss the days of going downtown to Just Desserts. [Portion of post removed.]


 +   5 people like this
Posted by AW, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 15, 2018 at 9:27 am

I, for one, enjoyed going to the Cheesecake Factory from time to time. I didn't find their food particularly unhealthy compared to other fare in the neighborhood.

I don't understand why some people are saying that they "couldn't make it work as a restaurant" or "If enough people don't like a business, it closes."

And yet other complaints include that it is always croweded and the waits are too long.

They must have been making $$. There must be some other reason for it closing.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Alex, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Jun 5, 2018 at 6:47 pm

I'm surprised they survived this long. I stopped going there years ago, after two incidents. In the first one, I found hair in my food, super gross. In the second one, I got food poisoning outright (from salmon). That's when I stopped ever going there again. This was long overdue. Good riddance.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Leah, a resident of Los Altos,
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:55 am

Nothing wrong with Cheesecake Factory in PA. As a matter of fact, I will be missing it as it has become a landmark in downtown for 15 years. I have eaten there quite a bit and sometimes they fail in the quality of food they serve, just like any other food institution. As for PA snubs and health freaks, they have a lot of restaurants within the vicinity that are more unhealthy. We all have choices where to dine, but we do not have to mock a business for its ostentatious décor or unhealthy food like their mouth-watering cheesecakes. They survived this long, so they must have done something right. Don't get me wrong. I do like a lot of restaurants better than Cheesecake Factory in both University Ave. & California Ave.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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