Cheesecake Factory cooks up a recipe for success

People like rich, tasty food — and sweet, smooth desserts.

That's a recipe the Cheesecake Factory Inc. has been following for more than three decades.

The company's roots can be traced to the home kitchen of Evelyn Overton, who ran a small baked goods business from the family home in Detroit in the 1940s. She and her husband, Oscar, later moved to California to launch a bakery.

In 1978, their son, David, opened the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills.

"I didn't know what I was doing," David Overton told The Times in a 2011 interview. "And I really didn't like the name. I thought we had so much more to offer."

Today, the Calabasas company operates 180 restaurants worldwide, consisting of 168 Cheesecake Factory restaurants, 11 Grand Lux Cafe restaurants and the RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen in Century City.

The restaurants are known for their massive menus, filled with high-calorie comfort foods, full bars and dozens of signature cheesecakes.

The website Thrillist reviewed all 34 of the company's cheesecakes in July, giving the top rating to something called "Chris' Outrageous Cheesecake." Thrillist said the concoction is layered with "chocolate cake, chewy brownie, toasted coconut-pecan frosting and chocolate chip coconut cheesecake."

Even with U.S. residents eating out less often, the Cheesecake Factory has posted impressive financial results, with annual revenue approaching $2 billion. Overton declined to be interviewed until after the company's earnings announcement Wednesday.

The latest

The Cheesecake Factory is pushing further into the worldwide market.

The company opened its first overseas restaurants in 2012 — one in Kuwait and two in Dubai, including the world's largest Cheesecake Factory at the Mall of the Emirates. The restaurants are operated by Alshaya Trading Co., which has the rights to open additional Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Turkey and Europe.

In the coming year, the company expects to open three to five more restaurants in the Middle East and Mexico City.

"The Cheesecake Factory restaurants appeal to a diverse guest base across a broad demographic range," the company said in its most recent annual report.

Accomplishments

The company has made a remarkable turnaround in recent years.

During the Great Recession, with consumers eating out less often, the company's stock price plummeted to $5.32 in November 2008, an 80% fall from its high point of 2007.

The company retrenched, scaled back expansion plans and regained its appeal with investors as the economy recovered.

It has reported quarter-over-quarter sales increases for the last 15 quarters at restaurants open at least one year.

Analysts expect the company to report record revenue and earnings for its fiscal year ended Dec. 31.