Even as local restaurant closures abound, the Cheesecake Factory sits secure in its perch above Macy’s, Union Square.

Despite the hits the overall industry is taking, the Cheesecake Factory has just announced that their revenue has held steady during what has been a tumultuous quarter for the restaurant industry.

Anyone who’s ever shopped in the Macy’s furniture department knows that the SF Cheesecake Factory is always packed to overflowing, so this success isn’t just a “place you fly over” thing, sorry.

But given our many incredible local food options, the success of the Union Square location does surprise me a bit! So I did what I do any time I have an SF restaurant question — I asked food journalist Paolo Lucchesi, of Eater SF for his take:

Location is key. It’s just an easy option for people. Everything about its location falls into place very well.

It’s in a high-profile, easy-access spot in Macy’s, so you’re getting a lot of tourists and visitors to the city from the ‘burbs who love the Factory as is. The views are as good as it gets in that area. The menu is kid-friendly.

And let’s face it, for the most part, Union Square is a bit of a restaurant wasteland, especially for folks who might not be familiar with nearby gems like Katana-Ya, 54 Mint or Canteen.

Readers, what, if anything, has driven you to the Factory (or away from it)? What have you done to contribute to its continued success?

Is the appeal as Paolo says, the location? Or is it a travel out of your way destination for you? Why would you choose it over a local joint?

Let’s hear it.

Photo: XenoMemories

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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  • bloomsm

    As a local, I won’t go there. It’s too busy, better choices elsewhere (and not far; walk to Cafe De La Presse for some yummy French food that’s not more expensive than the CF).

    Plus, no local would ever say to another local “I just ate at the CF”. It ruins your foodie cred.

  • TK

    Honest to God, I went there one time because I was curious about exactly the same thing you are – why the fuck are people waiting an hour to get in here?

    It wasn’t very good at all. And the portion sizes – Jesus, we should have just ordered one thing for the whole table.

    That said, I think Paolo nailed it, in part – location and kid-friendly. There’s also familiarity. If you’re not an adventurous eater, what sounds better, Katana-Ya or a chicken parmesan sandwich with fries?

  • Greg Dewar

    I only went there once and it was kind of under odd circumstances…a friend and I were leaving some bar-oriented event nearby and it was a bit late, and we ended up there only because we knew we could order one appetizer which we KNEW would be way too much for two people, and ended up giving away part to some homeless guy who got buffalo chicken things for dinner that night.

    I can’t walk past it without calling it (cue Simpsons Refernence) “the Texas Cheesecake Depository.”

  • Xenu

    The food there tastes like it came out of a microwave. And it probably did — all of these chains are known for that. Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen, etc. You’re paying quite a bit for frozen food.

  • kl2real

    I go there when my relationship is on the rocks, and I just want to get HUGE eating mediocre food in a scenic location. On my way out, I stop by the men’s department to buy a new pair of jeans with a larger waistline. Viola!

  • Matt Ghali

    if your idea of a wasteland includes Michael Minna’s flagship restaurant, i’m on the next train there.

  • davidk

    I’ve only been to the Cheesecake Factory twice, but I the memory of the food is enough to make me pull a DJ from Full House and collapse on a treadmill at the gym. Yecch.

    And the only reason I went there was because I was with people from out of town who had “heard about the food.” In retrospect, I should have asked what they’d heard and gone to Cafe de la Presse. I would have spent the same amount of money for an infinitely better dining experience.

  • dantsea

    This is San Francisco! Nothing anywhere is ever good en–what? This isn’t Chowhound? Oh, sorry. Anyway, I can understand going there for the location and kid-friendliness. But dear lord, WHY if you wanted those things would you wait an hour, perhaps longer, for the dubious honor of going there? Shit, the poor folks down at Glide don’t even wait as long for their meals, and they’ve got a valid reason.

    And Xenu, as hard as it may be to believe, you won’t find a microwave in the kitchens of these establishments, or at least not used in the method you’ve mentioned. It’s true: Someone actually makes effort to cook that badly.

  • Da Truff

    Simple answer: Because a majority of the people walking this planet are brain dead, morons that have all the class and good taste of a meth-addicted stripper in a border town (on the Mexican side).

  • PatrickH

    With all due respect to my good friend Paolo, I think he misses the main point. That the Cheesecake Factory is kid-friendly is key, but I don’t think its popularity has anything to do with a dearth of options in Union Square. 99% of people who would or have eaten at 54 Mint, Gitane, Michael Mina, Katana-ya or Canteen would never consider going to the Cheesecake Factory for any reason. It’s not even an option. On the flip side, 99% of Cheesecake Factory patrons would never consider any of those restaurants either; why pay $12 for two ounces of octopus carpaccio (“and what the heck is ‘carpaccio,’ anyway?”) at 54 Mint when you can get 1.5 pounds of Buffalo Blast (TM) for $13.95? they think. It might seem sad to us, but for some people–and by some I mean most of America–The Cheesecake Factory is the top of the top. This is where they go to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, impress dates and woo clients. It’s also a San Francisco free-zone, in San Francisco, an embassy for all our suburban and Midwestern visitors: familiar, safe and, for all its Chinese Chicken Salads, deeply American.

    Patrick Heig, Citysearch SF Editor.

  • Brian

    Like listening to a radio station at work, invariably you end up with soft rock classics from the 70s, 80, and 90 etc (Magic FM) and sadly the Factory is similarly the lowest common denominator. When trying to combine my wife and I varied group of friends I end up just throwing up my hands with a fine well go to the f-ing factory