Cheesecake Factory pivots to take-home & dials up indulgence. Naughty but nice!

American icon the Cheesecake Factory is navigating the pandemic by dialling up take home sales and using its 208 restaurants as delivery depots. It also chalked a deal with Doordash to smooth online order cycles and relieve staff pressures.

‘Talk triggers’ and ‘viral marketing’ are key components of the company’s playbook. There’s a menu that exceeds 250 items and exotic, indulgent, tantalising descriptions for its hero products.

The ‘Chocolate Caramelicious cheesecake made with snickers’ caught my eye as did the ‘Oreo dream extreme’. Tired of health foods? Cheesecake Factory clearly knows how to tempt.

No detail is too small; there is a 12 step process for serving tea, for example.

However revenues fell 20% in 2020 as for traffic to its restaurants dried up, SGAs rose and the company produced a loss for the first time in 5 years.

Management responded hence the switch to take home. They also dialled up ad spend 60% to recruit new users. According to the WSJ take-out sales are double pre-crisis levels.

The business makes 77% gross margin and has annual revenues over $2b.

Photo: Aneta Voborilova

Working at the Cheesecake Factory is not for the faint hearted. A long menu, temperature sensitive product and order cycles that peak in the evenings and weekends, make operations complex, and stressful. I’d love to know more about their sales forecasting and inventory management. 

Whilst there are currently franchisees in Mexico, Hong Kong and Dubai, there is more space internationally for the business. Australia is one example and perhaps also Russia?

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