Original Source: The Gainesville Sun
With its expansive menu and 30 varieties of cheesecake, the restaurant opens to the public Tuesday at Butler Town Center.
The kitchen is a blur of crisp white coats, handing off towering salads, burgers and pasta dishes.
“It’s like controlled chaos,” Alethea Rowe said.
And then, of course, there’s the cheesecakes. More than 30 varieties are lined up behind a chilled case at the entrance of Gainesville’s newest restaurant.
The Cheesecake Factory, 2851 SW 35th Drive Suite 70, will officially open to the public on Tuesday in Butler Town Center.
To prepare kitchen and waitstaff, the restaurant hosted a pre-opening training exercise Thursday and Friday. About 1,000 people were invited to lunch and dinner sessions in which they selected beverages, appetizers, entrees and desserts from a limited menu (limited because the full Cheesecake Factory menu has more than 250 options, and the restaurant did not want to immediately overwhelm staff).
Rowe, a spokeswoman for the chain, said some of the most popular menu options include the avocado egg roll appetizer, chicken madeira, miso salmon and bacon cheeseburger.
When it comes to cheesecakes, she said, a choice classic usually remains the favorite: the original style topped with strawberries. It was displaced briefly only once by a newcomer, the red velvet cheesecake, when it made its debut on National Cheesecake Day in 2009.
At Thursday’s lunch session, Gainesville resident Paula Wirtz stuck a fork into a sweet corn tamale cake.
“They were our server’s recommendation,” she said. “And they are spot on.”
Wirtz said that, although she’d previously lived in South Florida near Cheesecake Factory locations, she never took the time to visit one until trying Gainesville’s.
She said the servers at accommodating and she appreciates that the restaurant does not take reservations.
“Everyone is treated to the same experience,” Wirtz said.
Butler Town Center spokeswoman Mary Reichardt said social media buzz for the Cheesecake Factory has surpassed other openings.
The center is holding a raffle for five $25 gift cards on its Facebook page. So far, Reichardt said, the post has received more than 12,000 entries.
“This is by far the largest response we’ve had thus far,” she said.
“The Cheesecake Factory has a cult following that we are tapping into,” Reichardt said. “People are excited they no longer have to drive to Orlando to go to one.”
“Our goal is to provide the community with those types of experiences by bringing businesses from bigger cities here,” she said.
The Cheesecake Factory seats 215 people inside and can accommodate 88 people on its outdoor patio.
The restaurant will employ about 300 people in various positions. The company has been on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for six years. It was 25th this year.
The Cheesecake Factory’s hours will be Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 11 to 12:30 a.m., Saturday from 10 to 12:30 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.