CALABASAS – It started 27 years ago as a means to sell off excess sweets from the Overton family’s bakery in Beverly Hills and took five years before it mustered a second location. A third came another five years after that, giving The Cheesecake Factory a taste of a growth plan. It would be years before the concept caught on beyond its loyal local following around Los Angeles. On Monday, that pokey little company will open its 100th location in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Its locations bring in more than $11 million apiece on average each year and the company has never shuttered a restaurant. By far, it is the highest unit volume in the restaurant industry. “There are very few competitors that have the quality, brand and culture that Cheesecake has,” said Dean Haskell, a director and analyst with JMP Securities in San Francisco. “There’s no one else like them on a national scale.” And after it hits that 100th location, the company has no plans to slow down. It opened 18 spots in the last year and plans to proceed at a similar clip until it gets in the 200 range. For its upscale Grand Luxe Cafe, the Calabasas-based company aims to grow from its current five restaurants to as many as 150. And there’s plenty of people who need that strength; each restaurant opens with 10-14 managers and an hourly staff of as many as 200 employees. The company has advised investors that finding enough quality workers to run the new sites has been the only drag on even more growth. With as many as 250 more restaurants planned between its two concepts, that’s more than 50,000 people the company would have to recruit just to run its stores. “We’re growing rapidly, but it’s in the same way we always have,” Dixon said. “We still deliver the same taste and the same experience as we always have. . . In a country of this size, 100 restaurants isn’t that many, so we’re a long way from being saturated.” Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We’re in a great position where with the success we’ve had, we can pick and choose the sites we think are best,” said Mike Dixon, the company’s chief financial officer. “We’ve got landlords who want us in their projects and they’ll actually build a new structure just for us.” In the early expansion days, the company generally went into premier food towns like Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago. Now, it’s become large enough that they company can pull off openings in Des Moines and the Chicago suburb of Lincolnshire. Its main concern finding locations is a population density of 250,000 people within five miles with an above-average income. Once found, it won’t build another Cheesecake Factory within five miles, though it has found Grand Luxes won’t cannibalize sales from the flagship concept. But even with an empire that spans Hawaii to New York, it’s still run with elements of the philosophy from it’s beginning as a one-spot joint. Founder David Overton, who’s both chairman and chief executive officer, still visits each restaurant before opening with a team of executives. Even with an 18-page menu with 200 offerings, the company still reviews its cuisine twice a year, swapping out 10 items at a time for something new. Nearly every item’s still made from scratch. “When the founder of the company cares that much for every single detail in the restaurant, it really strengthens every single person who works for us,” said Howard Gordon, senior vice president of business development and marketing.
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AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Angel Gabriel Flores, who was born in Hawaii eight days earlier, never set eyes on his father. The child lives in Hawaii with his mother, who serves in the same Army unit as her deceased husband. “Ricky” Flores’ sister, Rosie Flores, 19, is moved by the outpouring from people who never met her brother. “Don’t worry about anything; we will take care of him,” company officials reassured her about her nephew last year. Angel and his mother, Laura, visited the company’s Santa Clarita offices recently. “The workers, the look in their eyes, they were family to Angel,” said Rosie Flores, a student at the University of California, San Diego. “When Angel grows up he’ll never be able to feel the warmth of my brother Ricky, but he’ll feel the warmth of them. It’s like a warmth only family can give.” Blue Barrel established the trust fund days after Flores died. Many employees have reached deep into their pockets to help out. SANTA CLARITA – Day after day, Santa Clarita’s trash collectors return to their office and empty pocket change into a donation can, building a college fund for the young son of a local soldier who died a year ago today in Iraq. So far they’ve collected more than $10,000, spurred by five co-workers at Blue Barrel Disposal who are family members of the fallen soldier, Army Pfc. Jose Ricardo Flores. “We wanted to make sure this young man would have something for his future,” said Dave Hall, route manager for Blue Barrel. Flores, 21, who lived in Newhall and attended Hart High School, was killed Nov. 16, 2004, in Mosul when explosives hit his convoy. Waste Management has matched the donations, which also have come from employees of haulers with Burrtec Waste Industries and Consolidated Disposal Service and community members. “These are blue-collar workers giving not just what they can – their generosity is beyond belief,” said Chris Fall, public sector services manager for Waste Management, Blue Barrel’s parent company. Co-workers banded around Flores’ uncles, drivers Saul Mejia, Hector Carillo, Antonio Carillo and Luis Flores, and his cousin, mechanic Rene Flores. Collectively, the family members have racked up more than 60 years of service to the hauler. The family’s sadness was compounded when Eva Carillo, Flores’ grandmother, died in a collision in Mexico en route to the young man’s funeral. She was the mother of two of the drivers. Many people take for granted the big trucks guided by agile men in uniforms who whisk away their discards. “These are the guys who have picked up your trash, green waste and recycling for years,” Fall said. “Many people don’t realize the size of the hearts they have.” Judy O’Rourke, (661) 257-5255 [email protected] HOW TO HELP Donations for 1-year-old Angel Gabriel Flores may be made to the “Angel Fund,” account number 2427806413, at any Bank of America. Checks should be made payable to Dave Hall in Trust for Angel Gabriel Flores.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!