Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cheesecake Factory vs. Outback Steakhouse vs. Olive Garden. By Sara Dickerman

Here's to you Rory, and your love of Seattle area chain restaurants.

Cheesecake Factory vs. Outback Steakhouse vs. Olive Garden. By Sara Dickerman: "Battle of the Middlebrow Chains
Our chef pits Cheesecake Factory against Outback Steakhouse against Olive Garden.
By Sara Dickerman
Posted Friday, Sept. 6, 2002, at 1:12 PM ET
Seven years ago, I worked across street from the Brentwood, Calif., branch of the Cheesecake Factory. My co-workers and I would lovelessly dole out the occasional lunch hour to the brass 'n' fern holdover. Little did I know it, but as I jawed through monotonous salads and sipped passion fruit iced tea, I was tasting the future.
When a branch of the restaurant landed in downtown Seattle last year, I assumed it would draw the same glum business clientele. But the Factory has drawn lines of expectant diners that would impress Steve Rubell?not only in terms of how many people wait, but how dressed up they get for dinner at the restaurant. These diners aren't looking for a cheap pit stop: After all, a pasta dish can run $15.95, which is the same price you'd pay in any number of well-respected independent restaurants in Seattle.
And Seattle's not the only city to catch Cheesecake fever. According to the online Zagat guide, the chain ranks No. 9 in popularity in Los Angeles, No. 3 in Miami, and No. 1 in Orange County, Calif. (Where nine of the top 10 are chains.) This may say more about Zagat's populism than the quality of these restaurants, but it's still startling to see the Los Angeles Cheesecake Factories listed alongside such local culinary landmarks as Campanile and Matsuhisa. "


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