What Is It About The Cheesecake Factory That Makes It Hollywood Celebrity Central? I Spent Date Night There to Find Out

Calories are not the point

cheesecake factory for celebrity: collage of stars and restaurant signage
Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin /Mike Coppola/NBC/Scott Olson/Getty Images

What’s the hottest restaurant reservation in Los Angeles right now? If we’re going by the draw of celebrities, it’s the Cheesecake Factory, the California-based chain of 215 restaurants that Page Six recently dubbed “America’s Hottest Restaurant.” Stars from all over the known universe rave about the allure of the restaurant: Blake Lively was quoted as saying “it should have Michelin stars.” Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb said she likes going there on a date. Jennifer Lawrence has been photographed toting the signature striped Cheesecake Factory bag of leftovers, and Cardi B. said she likes the restaurant’s cocktails.

I’m surprised—as a former food magazine editor, I always associated high-profile public figures with sophisticated, if not downright snobbish eateries (and to be sure, these also do great business in Beverly Hills). But you’re not hearing actors quoting their love of Craig’s in Santa Monica’s Parmesan gnocchi with white truffle in People magazine. What is it about the humble Cheesecake Factory that makes celebs love it? I’d never been there, so my partner and I decamped to the location at the Grove (where Ye recently caused waves thanks to scantily clad Bianca Censori). Date night was on and I was looking for why, out of anywhere in the world to go, would a famous actor or musician choose the Cheesecake Factory?

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1.   It’s got a Vegas ambiance that’s rowdy, full of people and still anonymous

When I could find no 7 p.m. reservations five days ahead of time, I was worried my Friday night plans would be foiled. Was The Cheesecake Factory too popular? Luckily, the manager I spoke to said I could probably walk in for a table, which we snagged after a 20-minute wait. And once inside, I instantly got it: For any celebrity that’s ever played Vegas or been the center of a snapping phalanx of paparazzi, this place is going to feel like home. There’s so much going on—rococo interiors (chandeliers! Mosaic walls! Brocaded banquettes! Ceiling

quotation mark

For any celeb that's been the center of a snapping phalanx of paparazzi, this place is going to feel like home

murals!) plus busy bee servers buzzing to closely packed tables arranged on noisy tile floors. And the people—where we were seated, there was a family feting their USC student son in his graduation gown, a pair of ladies having a gossipy girlfriend’s dinner and several what looked to be first dates. It was a circus of diverse individuals all clutching glowing cocktails over bread baskets and settling into the energetic and fun vibe. This tracks with what Kathy Hilton told People magazine when she was explaining how she and Rick ate there once a week. “Actually, you walk in there, and there are people. We love that!” she said. “We don’t want to sit in a restaurant with nobody in the room."

cheesecake factory for celebrity case of many cakes
Getty Images / Bloomberg / Contributor

2.   Hello, endless menu options of comfort food in large portions

Much has been written about the how high-calorie the food is, but that’s missing the point in a restaurant that’s happy to bring you a go-bag. Sure, the meatloaf has 2,250 calories, which is just about what most stars can eat in a day—and the salad I ordered, the chopped Chinese chicken number, is listed as having 1,750 calories. That’s all true, however, the savory satisfaction of fattening food can’t be overstated. When I left, I took half my salad and cheesecake (the lives-up-to-its name Classic cheesecake with fresh fruit) home with me. And if you’re really counting calories, the Skinnylicious menu introduced in 2015 has several 750 calorie options. Overall, the many, many pages of dishes to choose from was on balance worth any potential food baby—and this “whatever you want is yours” is just the kind of wish fulfilment celebs are accustomed to. One minor quibble: I didn’t get my dressing on the side as I asked for it, but I imagine if I were with a multi-platinum selling artist I would. (And I’m fine with that.)

Cheesecake Factory for celebrity: Server delivering entrees at Cheesecake Factory
Getty Images / Myung J. Chun

3.   It is a heartwarming throwback to attentive American service

At the Cheesecake Factory, you’re not getting snobbish food from a fancy waiter who is coming at you with beaucoup attitude, as is the cliché of a French restaurant. Here, the bustling staff made me feel like they know what they’re doing and they respect my choices. Our server repeated our order before she left our table (she used regular pen and paper too—none of this “I’m so holier-than-though, I’ll remember your order” business), delivered the food and drinks in a timely manner and made sure to introduce us to the interim server that was minding her tables during her “half-hour lunch break.” (Shout out to CheFac management—can we give those hardworking waiters a little more time mid-shift?) There was a lot of energy happening in this joint, as though we were all in a community production of literal dinner theatre. We chatted with tables next to us, smiled along with the graduate’s family as a waiter took a group picture and felt like we’d gotten our money’s worth after the meal. (The cheesecake sugar high might also have been part of it.)

Final Thoughts

If I were a celebrity, I’d totally vibe with the Cheesecake Factory, a place where you can interact with real folks while catching a little pasta-margarita-cheesecake buzz. It’s restaurant as anti-spa experience, which is the necessary antidote to all that meditative wellness business, is it not? The next time I’m catching a movie at the AMC The Grove multiplex next door, I’m going to stop in for an appetizer and a cheesecake. Stars, they’re just like me.

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dana dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...