The Cheesecake Factory Will Soon Reward The Faithful

The restaurant chain plans to introduce a loyalty program in 2022.

We've talked a lot about the recent wave of staffing woes experienced by most of the country's major restaurant chains. And while it's true that many of these businesses are desperate for more employees—to the point of calling up people who applied years ago and trying to lure them back—the complicating factor is that these companies are so large and expansive that some of these issues are only regional, and don't tell the whole story about how a brand is performing. Case in point: The Cheesecake Factory, which despite its huge menu, huge restaurant interiors, and huge demand for fresh staff, is not hurting in the post-pandemic* landscape as you might assume.

Industry publication Restaurant Business reports that The Cheesecake Factory is not just surviving, but thriving. Through the month of July, the chain's sales are up 10% above pre-pandemic figures, and it's on track to hit new all-time records for unit sales (or the revenue earned by a single location). In fact, company executives confirmed that the staffing issue, while prevalent within certain regions, is not having an effect on the company's bottom line.

"This has not meaningfully stifled our sales prospects at Cheesecake restaurants," company President David Gordon told financial analysts. "We are now above pre-COVID staffing."

Though dining rooms are now open virtually everywhere across the U.S., takeout and delivery orders account for nearly a third of The Cheesecake Factory's business. And that shift is factoring into what Restaurant Business describes as the brand's "marketing overhaul," currently in the works for 2022. RB notes that Gordon recently confirmed to investors that the rest of this year will be focused on developing a permanent loyalty rewards program, something the chain doesn't yet have but which it's hoping will drive repeat business and develop frequent customers. (Do you associate The Cheesecake Factory exclusively with holiday shopping trips and post-prom dinners? That's exactly the perception that The Cheesecake Factory wants to change.)

Apparently a lot of consumer research is being put into this new program, which RB describes as "tailored to the chain and its hardcore customers" and Gordon says is "on-brand for The Cheesecake Factory and our guests." What could this mean for future trips to "Cheesecake," as loyal fans call it? Maybe a free slice of cheesecake each time you spend $50 in a single order? Or a chance to unlock an even bigger menu with 1,000 additional fried appetizer options? The possibilities are as endless as the chain's pasta menu.

(*The term "post-pandemic" here is intended to signify our reality subsequent to the outbreak of COVID-19. In no way do I mean to imply that this pandemic is over and done with and we are now living in a world free of coronavirus. Got it? Good. Be safe out there, everyone!)