The Cheesecake Factory Phenomenon

06/08/2015 11:34 am ET | Updated Jun 08, 2016

There's something funny about The Cheesecake Factory.

It seems no matter what time you go and no matter which location you visit, there's a wait to get in.

And that wait? It's often a substantial one, causing crowds of people to gather around and anticipate, sometimes for an hour or more, that fateful moment when their buzzer will snap to life and signal that their time has come.

I noticed it again this past weekend, as Hubbie and I passed The Cheesecake Factory on the way to another restaurant just around the corner.

The scene inside the Cheesecake Factory?


The scene inside our dining venue?


It made no sense to me. The food at our place was great. The wine selection even better.

And there was no wait.

I decided to get to the bottom of this little phenomenon, and so I made my way to the crowd of buzzer-holding people outside The Cheesecake Factory. I asked them just what made this place so special? Just why they were willing to wait so long?

Their answers varied, but were all around the same theme...

"...I know what kind of experience I'm going to get..."

"...I don't have to worry, I know it will be a good time..."

"...I know I'll like it and it's right here. I didn't even have to cross the street to get here..."

And so it began to make sense. The reason people were willing to wait so long to get into this restaurant was because they knew what they were going to get.

There was a comfort for these people in knowing what to expect from their experience, from their meal, from those crazy-delicious desserts.


We do this all the time, engage in something we know because there's no risk involved. And we do it with more than just food.

We do it with the people we hang out with...the jobs we work in...the places we visit on vacation...the towns we live in...the shows we watch.

We get to know and enjoy certain things about them, and so we stick with them alone. Even when they might not be as exciting. Even though there might be something new out there for us to experience.

There's nothing wrong with this, of course. Once we find something we like it makes sense to continue doing it...especially if we're in the midst of a stressful time and just want to engage in something that we know we'll enjoy.


Perhaps it doesn't make sense to do the known thing each and every time.

Perhaps part of what makes life so interesting is to find other things that delight us. Other people who can teach us something. Other jobs that will stretch our minds. Other shows that will entertain us.

If we always put off new things because we fear they might not be as good, we miss out on new things that are just as good -- or even better -- than what we know.

We resign ourselves to a known experience every time. We miss out on some learning and adventure along the way.

It's up to us to recognize that there are times when it's worth it to try something new, even though we don't know the outcome.

To decide to get outside of our comfort zone when life might be getting too expected...when we're no longer feeling challenged at work...when we're planning for that next vacation.

It's up to us to recognize when there's really nothing to lose (which, let's face it, is a whole lot of the time). It's up to us to commit to making the best of something new no matter what.

That's really the main thing, right? To make the best of every situation.

To enjoy your new thing even if it doesn't go perfectly. To learn and experience and find delight. To know you can always do something differently next time.

And, sometimes, to know that the time has come to go with that certain thing after all. To hold on to that buzzer and smile.

No matter how long it might take to go off.

Oh, and if you've never been to The Cheesecake Factory before, you may actually want to make it one of your new things. The risk really isn't that high. And their desserts really are crazy-delicious.


This week...

Enjoy those Cheesecake Factory moments. And take some time to test something new.

Enjoy it all, no matter what.

And know that you just might fight something new that delights you along the way.

P.S. Thanks to osseous for the great photo of the guy sitting contently with his slice of cheesecake