Lexingtonians have long clamored for a Cheesecake Factory to call their own — and that furor had grown louder since Sears closed its Fayette Mall store, leaving a big hole where the cultishly popular restaurant chain could theoretically move in.
On Tuesday, the Calabasas, Calif.-based Cheesecake Factory gave all those fans of the 200-item menu and its 30 varieties of cheesecake just what they wanted, announcing that it would open a restaurant at the mall.
Fayette Mall also announced late Tuesday afternoon that the popular Swedish "fast fashion" retailer H&M would be a new tenant in the former Sears space in the middle of the mall. The seafood-centered fast casual restaurant Newk's Eatery and apparel retailers Clarks Shoes and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers will open stores in the mall, too.
Earlier this month, Fayette Mall leaders said about 20 new stores and restaurants will go into the space formerly occupied by Sears. That space is currently under renovation with a plan to create a new mall entrance and 115,000 square feet of new retail space with a mix of fashion, home furnishings and dining, according to the mall, which is owned by Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties.
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The redevelopment is expected to be completed this fall; mall spokeswoman Sarah Enlow said the stores announced Tuesday are expected to open by the holiday season.
Earlier this year, the mall announced that retailers Michael Kors and Brighton Collectibles would be new tenants.
Cheesecake Factory spokeswoman Alethea Rowe said in a statement, "Fayette Mall is a wonderful shopping destination with an impressive roster of tenants. The Cheesecake Factory is excited to be opening our second restaurant in Kentucky at the Fayette Mall, and we look forward to serving guests from the local community."
Later Tuesday, the mall issued a news release showing the new Cheesecake Factory locating in a new front entrance to the mall, with a two-level H&M covering 23,000 square feet adjacent to the new mall entrance.
H&M operates stores worldwide with square footage that is an average of 20,000 to 25,000 square feet. Started in Sweden in 1947, the store operates 3,100 stores in 53 countries.
The Cheesecake Factory opened in 1972 in Los Angeles as a dessert producer, launched its first namesake restaurant in Beverly Hills in 1978 and went public in 1992. Its stock trades on Nasdaq under the symbol CAKE.
The company says it has 33,618 employees in the United States, where it operates 169 restaurants under the name The Cheesecake Factory. It says on its website that it plans to open 12 to 14 new restaurants this year.
It has a restaurant in Louisville in The Mall St. Matthews and one in Cincinnati's Kenwood Towne Center.
The company had revenue of $475.1 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013, up 2.2 percent from $464.7 million in the same quarter the year before.
The Motley Fool investment analysts said in February that The Cheesecake Factory "may be a forever hold stock" because new restaurants have been outperforming existing locations, "which suggests the company is getting better at deciding where to place its locations."
The Motley Fool also noted that sales at the company's restaurants outpaced the restaurant industry as a whole and praised its "unique niche ... that is likely not in danger of direct, head-to-head competition."
Although the restaurant has a cult-like following, Men's Health magazine has been a persistent critic, calling it "the worst restaurant in America" for four years running because of its extensive lineup of high-calorie, high-fat entrees.
According to "Eat This Not That," a collection of restaurant nutrition facts compiled by Men's Health, Cheesecake Factory entrees to avoid include: the Ranch House burger (1,941 calories), "the idyllic-sounding" grilled chicken and avocado club (1,752 calories), and the side of macaroni and cheese (1,462 calories)." It conceded, though, that the chain's Factory Burger (740 calories) is "the best sit-down restaurant burger in America."
According to nutritional information on its website, The Cheesecake Factory's namesake desserts range from 570 calories for its low-carb original cheesecake sweetened with Splenda to 1,330 calories for Adam's peanut butter cup fudge ripple cheesecake.
Fortune magazine ranks the chain at No. 92 in its 2014 list of Best Companies to Work For because, in part, full- and part-time employees alike are eligible for company-sponsored health insurance. The benefits are also generous for managers. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the Cheesecake Factory's 174 general managers get a new BMW every three years, in addition to stock options and bonuses.
The Cheesecake Factory shares closed Tuesday at $48.66, up 6 cents, or 0.12 percent.