Why Is The Cheesecake Factory Kitchen Being Run By A Drill Sergeant?

Reader T is wondering why the Cheesecake Factory’s kitchen is being run by a drill sergeant. He says his meal was ruined by the “unrelenting, verbal assaults” that were wafting from the open kitchen into the dining room where he and the restaurant’s other customers were trying to eat.

T writes:

I wrote a letter to the Cheesecake Factory HQ and it basically tells the story of a miserable experience at the Cheesecake Factory in Columbus, Ohio and here is a copy of it:

My wife and I were using a gift card that was given to us at your Cheesecake Factory Fine Dining Restaurant. The food was superb.

There was one major annoyance that several customers including our party had to endure. It was the drill-sgt that you placed in the kitchen which isn’t separated from the rest of restaurant. This person attacked the cooks with such acrimony it made me sick. Continuous, unrelenting, verbal assaults. Other patrons were standing up wondering what was all the yelling about. I finally went over and told him to “Shut up, there are people trying to eat”. Only after that, could I actually hear my wife talking when she was only sitting arm’s length. A lady came to our table and apologized, but I come to find out that this belligerent brow-beating is normal protocol and it wasn’t a one time occurrence. I got word from several of your people as we were making our way out of your restaurant that they had been waiting for a customer to finally speak up as I did. They thanked me. How can you continue to offer a fine dining experience? You need to do something about your restaurant because if I were you, I would be embarrassed. My wife and I eat out when we can and our first impression of the Cheesecake Factory was terrible to say the least.

Sincerely,
T

What I want to know is are all Cheesecake Factories like the one we have? Management must of known about this Drill Sgt., how could they not? It was a disaster dining experience. I don’t expect to hear anything back from the Cheesecake Factory people after getting an empty apology from management.

Well, we’ve only been to the Cheesecake Factory once, but we didn’t notice Sergeant Hulka running the kitchen. What gives?

Comments

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  1. Kajj says:

    Maybe you’re an unwitting reality show extra?

  2. ilikemoney says:

    Sounds like their head chef has been watch Hell’s Kitchen a little too much.

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    OMG – Cheesecake factory on Consumerist. The (few) times I’ve eaten there I continue to be amazed by their enormous menu containing large glossy advertisements for other merchants.

    Has any one ever been in any other place that does this?

    Also, who else thinks the interiors of Cheesecake Factory are designed by a fired Las Vegas casino interior designer?

  4. ironchef says:

    this person never watched Hell’s Kitchen.

    You need a good task master in the kitchen. Line cooks are notorious for uneven quality so you have to keep an eye on production and timing to the hot plate.

  5. MayorBee says:

    It’s a good thing you had eaten already. Otherwise, NO SOUP FOR YOU!

  6. jmsbmck says:

    I NOTICED THIS TOO!! I also have been to the Cheesecake Factory at Easton in Columbus. Whoever is doing the screaming has a Chef Ramsey complex. We were unfortunate enough to sit where we could hear him last time. We haven’t been back since. If we do go to that one again (they’re opening another location at Polaris, 10 or so miles away) we will only sit on the patio.

    That guy/chef/cook/whatever ruined my dinner. I can’t imagine having to work near/under him too.

  7. Bladefist says:

    @ilikemoney: Or is getting frustrated because he hasn’t figured out they only speak Spanish.

  8. DarrenO says:

    No cheesecake for you!!

  9. rmz says:

    Gordon Ramsay certainly has fallen from grace.

  10. B says:

    Last time I was at the Cheesecake Factory, my meal was ruined by the overpriced, bland food and thick, lumpy cheesecake.

  11. durkzilla says:

    Having had the misfortune of eating several times at Cheesecake Factories in the Greater Boston Area, I’ll suggest that they NEED this type of person in the kitchen in order to keep orders moving. Nearly every meal I’ve had at a Cheesecake Factory was delayed in some way – either some item got screwed up, or no waitstaff would visit the table to take our order, or for no apparent reason the kitchen would be “backed up” and meals would take forever to come out.

    Having to listen to the barking through a meal would be a dealbreaker for me. Maybe they should just convert those pager devices (it’ll always be at least a 45 minute wait for a table) into employee “motivational” collars. The 9 volt battery will have to be replaced with something significantly more powerful though…..

  12. Shaftoe says:

    @ironchef:
    What a bunch of Bravo Sierra. I was a Line cook for 10 years and the worst of the places were those involving a taskmaster as a chef. A foul little greek man comes to mind.
    Working the line in a busy kitchen is a dance and the best are when every one is professional and enjoying themselves.

  13. Shaftoe says:

    Oh yeah,
    lets not equate Cheescake factory with fine dining.

  14. donkeyjote says:

    @DarrenO: Godwin at 2:08pm. Very subtle as well. Nicely played.

    Also, Cheesecake Factory? More like Cheesecake Bootcamp, right?

  15. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    My experiences with Cheesecake Factory have been mixed. on the one hand, the food has always been absolutely outstanding.

    on the other hand, the dinner hour almost always has at least an hour wait, with dozens of other waiting customers crowding the much too small waiting area, and no reservations. They’re usually pretty understaffed at these times too, leading to long waits and inattentive service.

    I’ve experienced this 3 times in the past 18 months, so it wasn’t just a fluke. 3 Strikes = they’re out. I won’t be going back.

  16. bohemian says:

    We have a couple of local restaurants that have open kitchen designs. They manage to run smoothly without anyone yelling or acting like Ramsay.

    I would have been seriously annoyed by the kind of distraction described.

  17. Cattivella says:

    A good friend of mine was a waitress at Cheesecake Factory. The managers were notoriously awful and she (and most of the rest of the staff) would often come home crying from the verbal assaults they received.

    That said, I’ve never had a bad experience there and the Gin Ricky is delicious.

  18. Balisong says:

    Should have also told them to start including cream cheese in their cheesecake. Really, I don’t understand why people buy cheesecake from this place.

  19. durkzilla says:

    @bohemian:

    Did you ever see that episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” where Larry was a partner in a new restaurant with an open kitchen design – and they hired a chef with Tourette’s Syndrome?

    That was awesome.

  20. jtkooch says:

    If you want good food, you need something like this in the kitchen. These “chef Ramsay” comments are idiotic. EVERY good chef runs a tight ship, and if you fall behind, are lazy, or careless any chef worth his salt will read you the riot act.

    The problem is not with the yelling chef, but the fact that the kitchen can be heard from the dining room. I would suggest you stop being a baby, or don’t sit so close to the kitchen next time.

    Actually, if I were you I wouldn’t go back. You broke the cardinal rule: don’t fuck with people who handle your food.

  21. Farquar says:

    @B: @durkzilla: @Shaftoe:

    yes, and yes, and yes.

  22. Farquar says:

    Don’t feed the jtkooch troll

  23. mike says:

    I’ll probably get flagged for this but I’m not a huge fan of the Cheesecake Factory. Yes, their stuff is great…but a bit over-priced.

    I *might* do this for a special occassion, but not regularly.

  24. The most surprising thing of this story was that T says a CF employee came up to him, saying that the employees have been “waiting for a customer to finally speak up as I did.” How odd is that, that the employees were waiting for a customer to step to their defense?

  25. mike says:

    @Farquar: What makes him a troll? I thought his comment was insightful.

    The problem IS that the kitchen can be heard in the dining room.

  26. Mike_ says:

    I complained to Cheesecake Factory after a less-than-satisfactory experience at their Honolulu location. We were seated immediately, but then ignored for more than 15 minutes while staff stood around chatting amongst themselves. I had to approach someone to ask that we be served. (There was apparently some confusion as to who was assigned to our table.) When our waitress finally showed up, instead of apologizing, she pretended nothing had happened, which annoyed me to no end.

    I submitted my complaint through their web form, and within 24 hours received a personal response directly from the location’s manager. I wouldn’t expect any less, especially now that this complaint has been published here.

  27. toddvm says:

    @linus: @linus: Please do not feed the trolls regardless of how you may “feel” towards them.

  28. Farquar says:

    @linus: So you agree that the problem is with Cheesecake Factory, in that they designed their establishment so that customers hear constant yelling from the kitchen.

    Are you also on board with his calling the OP a “baby” for actually complaining about what you agree is a problem that Cheesecake Factory created.

    I’m certain OP would have been fine with all the yelling at the cooks if he couldn’t hear them, and both you and the troll seem to agree.. yet the OP is a baby.

    Thats why he’s a troll.

  29. donkeyjote says:

    @heavylee-again: They like being employed.

  30. startertan says:

    Other than the 2 hour plus wait times on a busy Friday/Saturday night at Cheesecake Factory we’ve always had good experiences there (Columbia and Baltimore, MD). The food is always good and the portions are huge (and expensive).

  31. DH405 says:

    @Bladefist: Thanks for our daily infusion of xenophobia. Great user icon. Keep it up.

  32. macinjosh says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    “OMG – Cheesecake factory on Consumerist. The (few) times I’ve eaten there I continue to be amazed by their enormous menu containing large glossy advertisements for other merchants.”

    I love CF but I think is tacky too. If you think about it though, diners do this too (on their placemats)

  33. DH405 says:

    @SkokieGuy: I thought that was SO weird too! Especially in a place that tries to be so classy and upscale in appearance. I thought it was pretty tacky.

    I’ve seen it in little family-owned Mexican restaurants, but I don’t mind that. They’re scraping to get by and I can’t blame them for it.

  34. Life_Sandwich says:

    @rmz:

    He’s good on his other show, Kitchen Nightmares. He’s harsh on that show too, the difference being that he’s also right most of the time, and actually helps people improve and shows that he cares about their business. On HK, he’s just abusive.

    And, uh, yeah, that sounds like a real unpro you got in the kitchen there, Cheesecake Factory.

  35. DH405 says:

    I gotta say that I totally applaud anyone who would stand up to bullshit employee abuse like that. I know it was mainly a noise complaint, but still.. Good.

  36. The commercial for “Hells Kitchen” makes my wife want to hit the guy, and she’s a very nice person. I’m not quite so nice. ANY business that allows this sort of behavior is opening themselves up for a lawsuit.

    The occasional verbal snap is one thing, but to verbally assault people like that jerk does indicates you can’t be bothered to run a business. To say that this sort of behavior is appropriate in ANY situation where you are directing people who work for you is without merit.

  37. 1729ers says:

    My Cheesecake Factory horror story is quite different from this posters, yet both show management has serious issues. Many years ago my wife and 3 year old son went to pick up takeout food from the Cheesecake Factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. There is little parking in the vicinity so my wife used their valet service. When she returned to the parking area to pick up her car, the valet positioned the car so that she did not see the front of the car. She drove off and within a block realized that something was wrong with the car because it made an awful sound when she turned left. She went out of the car and found major damage had been done to the front of the car. She called me and at 7:00 PM and I drove out and investigated. I spoke with the restaurant manager who informed me that the car parkers were part of a different company Cheesecake Factory contracts to handle their valet parking service. I proceeded to the parking lot. Initially they denied having done the damage to my wife’s vehicle. I found pieces from our car in their parking lot. I called Cheesecake Factory corporate office to discuss the whole episode and to have them take care of the repair of my vehicle. They explained to me again that the valet parking service was a separate company. I responded with the fact that while it may be a separate company, my wife had dropped her car off at the parking facility for Cheesecake Factory and that as such it was their problem none the less. A few calls to my attorney and I suspect a few calls from them to theirs changed their mind about responsibility. Eight thousand dollars of damage to the front of my new Mercedes was ultimately paid for by their valet parking service, but the whole episode left such a bad taste in my mouth that I have never gone back. For many years I was a loyal customer of their Beverly Hills restaurant.

  38. @SMSDHubbard:

    Thanks for our daily infusion of xenophobia. Great user icon. Keep it up.

    …and thank YOU for our daily dose of “open minded” name calling!

  39. @1729ers: Man, that’s hard to read. Please use paragraphs, people.

  40. exkon says:

    @1729ers: This is where I would have to agree with CCF. They hired a separate company to take care of the valet parking so you should have spoken to them.

    But for better customer service they should have spoken to the valet service for you. They should have been the middle man to make sure your concerns were voiced properly to company. But by no means are they really responsible for it.

  41. junkmail says:

    @SMSDHubbard: You’re right, that comment was completely out of bounds. Everyone knows folks of Latin descent never work in kitchens.

  42. kc2idf says:

    Never encountered a problem at Cheesecake Factory here in Albany, NY. The food has been good, the service has been good, but the prices have been very high.

    As for this particular jackass, a couple of things should be noted about Gordon Ramsay when comparing the two:

    1. In the case of Hell’s Kitchen, the diners know what they are signing up for. Ramsay’s verbal pyrotechnics are part of the evening’s entertainment.

    2. In the case of Kitchen Nightmares, he does his level best to keep his loudest diatribes out of earshot of the customers. Only when all else has failed will he do otherwise.

    3. Further in the case of Kitchen Nightmares, he is working to prop up failing establishments. Somehow I doubt that the Cheesecake Factory fits that mold.

    4. All of Ramsay’s shows are edited for content. People want to see the verbal pyrotechnics, the steam coming from Ramsay’s ears, etc. The programmes are edited to bring out the worst.

  43. spinachdip says:

    @durkzilla: It seems most Cheesecake Factory locations are in malls, so I’m guessing rushes are unpredictable and crowd management is more difficult than at downtown restaurants (not that it excuses the lack of preparedness, of course). Plus, people are more willing to wait it out since they’re already at the mall and there aren’t many other options.

    As for the drill sergeant chef, yeah, line chefs do have to keep the orders moving, but with an open kitchen setting like CCF, they do have to keep the diners in mind. And I don’t know what the OP’s definition of “berating”, but an abusive chef can’t be good for morale.

    @Bladefist: Heh, reminds me of the No Reservations episode where Bourdain goes back to work on the line at Les Halles, and he was the only English speaker in the kitchen.

  44. Kirk Douglas says:

    I’m going to blame the consumer in this case for clearly not asking said drill sergeant what his major malfunction was.

  45. Cheesecake Factory is bland yucky over priced food that takes forever to get. For a restaurant that is often located at malls, you would expect them to have children’s portions.

  46. ARPRINCE says:

    @Mike_: I had the same experience or issue you had with another Cheesecake Factory located in Hackensack NJ. However, my outcome was something to be desired with. It was actually the manager who approached us since he noticed that we have not been served for sometime. He apologized and we got free deserts. Kudos!!!

  47. marsneedsrabbits says:

    The Cheesecake Factory staff were very rude about my simple gluten-free question, so we don’t go there.

    In fact, guys screaming in the kitchen would have been a step up.

  48. am84 says:

    I’ve never had any problem at either Pittsburgh location, but I definitely avoid going there on weekends when the wait time can get up to 2+ hours.

  49. Silverage says:

    They have the BEST Mudslide dessert! The one here in Long Island NY is great, never a problem except for the huge waits to get in.

  50. P_Smith says:

    @ironchef: this person never watched Hell’s Kitchen.

    Try watching Lenny Henry’s TV series, “Chef!” for a good laugh. His character puts Prima Donna into the Prima Vera, and has a mouth like a sailor. He thinks abuse is a motivator and rules are for other people.

  51. Julia9999999 says:

    I worked at a cajun seafood restaurant in the 90’s, and the Kitchen Manager would shout abusive things like “Get this godd*mn food out NOW!” and throw trays on the floor because there were no waiters to run the food out to the tables. There were two in and out doors through which diners could hear the yelling and screaming from the other end of the restaurant. Plus to get a drink from the bar (as a waiter) you had to yell it out. Very loud and unprofessional, considering the average entree was $20, which back then and even now is pricey so people expect a little ambiance to offset the cost.

  52. RAREBREED says:

    Cheesecake Factory? I’ll never eat there again. We went for a birthday party. Knowing that the birthday boy was turning 22, and having been a part of large groups enough times to know what happens when dealing with youth, the three more intelligent people (think slightly older) sat at a separate table across from the large table. We specifically told the waitress we’re a different party after she asked if we were all together, and asked her, “we will get a separate check for our items, right?” She said, “Of course.” Dinner, no drinks, check. The large table’s check came first, they paid, we still hadn’t gotten ours, and they left. When ours came, it had 6 alcoholic drinks on it, none of which were ours, and an extra entree. We immediately called the attention of the waitress, explained it to her, and all she said was something like, “Well you know them, so pay it now, and get it from them later. I must have messed up.” We immediately hit the, “Oh HELL NO!” phase, and asked for the manager. We explained it again to him, and he asked us what we’d like as a resolution. We explained that even since the waitress admitted flubbing the checks, to have only our items on our bill, and have it reprinted so we could pay. He said he couldn’t do that since we were ONE PARTY. We then explained that we were not one party, we had separate reservations, a separate table, and clarified that with the waitress before hand. She then interrupted claiming she didn’t understand what we meant by that (but not that we didn’t say it). The waitress said she would call the cops if we didn’t pay the whole thing, and we were fine with that since a bulk of the bill wasn’t even ours! The manager asked her to stop talking and let him handle it, she then started arguing with the manager, who eventually dropped the bill on our table and said, “Fuck it, do whatever you want,” and walked away. In the end, we paid what we owed, calculated the tax on our own, and left with the manager glaring at us as we walked out.

  53. Ubik2501 says:

    @KirkDouglas: I can’t believe it took this long for somebody to make a Gunnery Sargeant Hartman reference.

    And the head chef’s behavior was totally inappropriate towards both the customers and the employees. Patrons shouldn’t be subjected to yelling and foul language, even second-hand, during their dining experience, and employee performance isn’t going to increase in an unnecessarily hostile workplace. Yeah, sometimes a manager has to take off the gloves and kick ass to get business done, but it sounds like the guy was just being profusely abusive, and nobody works well in those conditions. Not only are the employees suffering undue abuse, it’s going to end up harming the customer as well in the end through substandard results.

  54. Forge42 says:

    My wife and I ate at that very restaurant (Easton Cheesecake Factory) last night and had a good experience. The food was great and actually came out a little sooner than I expected. We were pretty far from the kitchen, but I didn’t hear any yelling. I’ve never had a bad experience there.

  55. fluiddruid says:

    A family member of mine just started work as a server at the Cheesecake Factory. She has worked for many restaurants but I can’t remember her ever being as enthusiastic about any of them. The staff there are treated well and have to go through an extensive training with a lot of food tasting. I always dismissed them as yet another ‘chain restaurant’ but I thought it was neat that they are very interested in creating quality food (they use NO microwaves there).

  56. thomanjones says:

    @TakingItSeriously: While Ramsey might be the extreme, I’ve spent about 10 years working in restaurants, and it’s a high stress environment. Head Chefs with veins popping out of their foreheads shouting obscenities is more the rule than the exception. Granted, I have not worked in an ‘open kitchen’ restaurant – I do agree that’s it’s a dumbass maneuver to have a Ramsey-type chef in that sort of environment.

    In defense of the ramsey-type chef’s that I have worked under, all but one were great guys (and girls) AFTER the shift, and all were generally well liked, respected, and at least slightly crazy. You kind of have to be to survive in a highly competitive restaurant.

  57. snowburnt says:

    Cheesecake factory = big, confusing menu, overpriced sub par food. The food is good, but you pay WAAAAAY too much for it. The service at the Cheesecake factory near us is decent, but it’s not worth the disorganized menu and prices.

    Also: if you order a cheesecake over the phone, they wait till you get there to make it. We wanted to be in and out, ended up waiting almost half an hour.

  58. Czum says:

    @P_Smith: +1

    Chef is a brilliant show.

  59. eightfifteen says:

    “I am…in a world…of cream cheese”

    I always tell the waitress that I hear they make good pies, I’ll have a slice of dutch apple.

  60. MyPetFly says:

    @SkokieGuy:

    >>OMG – Cheesecake factory on Consumerist. The (few) times I’ve eaten there I continue to be amazed by their enormous menu containing large glossy advertisements for other merchants.

    Actually, years ago I interview a couple of guys (when I was a reporter) who started a business selling advertising in menus. That would have been around 1992 or 1993.

    I’ve eaten in the Easton (Columbus) CF, and never had a problem with noisy kitchen staff, but that was years ago. However, the huge crowds waiting for lunch and dinner kind of turned me off.

    @RAREBREED:

    That last comment would have earned him a broken nose from me.

  61. Bladefist says:

    @SMSDHubbard Learn to take a joke my friend.

    @spinachdip: Glad you got it was a joke.

    It just reminded me of a friend of mine, who is a manager, and all of his cooks are spanish speaking and he has a hard time directing them.

  62. dirk1965 says:

    Let me guess… this person must not like Gordon Ramsey.

    He ROCKS btw!

  63. Nev-in-NYC says:

    The way I look at it, if you’re going to have an open kitchen restaurant consider that when you’re hiring your staff. If my meal had been interrupted like that I would have done what the OP did and then some. Needless to say I would have gotten the manager involved and started a row before leaving without having the food (because as others have mentioned, don’t mess with the people who handle your food unless you like bodily fluids mixed with your meal) or leaving any money. But then again, I’m a hotheaded guy who likes the occasional confrontation…

  64. mdoneil says:

    Cheesecake factory & fine dining have never occured to me.

    The menu is like the Sears catalog. They do have fairly large portions of heat & eat food (think Sysco not haute cuisine).

    It is OK, sometimes a group from my office will go to lunch there, but I wouldn’t take the family there (unless I had a gift card).

    I did get a gift card to a place that had really PO’ed me once. I gave it to homeless people. They have to eat too – they were nice homeless people – not drug addict looking crackheads.

  65. bobfromboston says:

    The words “Cheesecake Factory” and “fine dining” should never appear in the same pararaph.

    I mean, the food’s not awful, but it’s damned expensive for what it is. I’d gladly exchange the giant portion sizes for some higher quality.

    And for this people wait an hour or two? I honestly don’t get it.

  66. the lesser of two weevils says:

    @johnarlington: “For a restaurant that is often located at malls, you would expect them to have children’s portions.”

    Considering they are at malls, I’ve noticed this to be a perhaps intentional marketing move. Big portions = take home boxes, theirs come with their trademark brightly coloured plastic bags which will get toted around the mall afterwards as walking billboards for other hungry mallgoers to see.

    Ive eaten at the Portland/Beaverton one twice now and both times had a good experience. It’s very much like (west coast franchise) Claim Jumper in that it’s HUGE, faux-fancy decorated and has menus the size of Alaska. I’ve always felt like it’s good food for a reasonableish price considering the portions. The last time I was there I do remember saying “doesnt it look like it belongs in a Vegas casino?” But in a good way…since going there you shouldnt expect intimate fine dining – just look at the place! Not coincidentally it always seems to be a popular place during prom season.

  67. seandavid010 says:

    @ironchef:

    Oh, come on… I put myself through college working as a line chef, and worked with a few of these ‘Kitchen Nazis’. When everyone is cool headed and having a good time the food just flows out of the kitchen. These Drill Sergeant types just complicate the process and piss everyone off.

  68. spinachdip says:

    @seandavid010: It really depends on the crew – some crews respond to a polite, “Rush on the steak, please,” while others respond to “Where’s the fucking steak I needed five minutes ago?” I’ve worked with the latter style, and no one took it personally – we understood that it was his style, and everything was forgotten once the shift was over. The key is mutual understanding between the chefs and the cooks.

    Of course, the latter style is a horrible, horrible fit for Cheesecake Factory.

  69. Bladefist says:

    @seandavid010: I’ll agree with you. You hire serious people, who want to work hard, you shouldn’t need nazi’s running the place.

  70. Bladefist says:

    @spinachdip: However I would advise don’t do the latter way if the customers can see/hear you.

  71. seandavid010 says:

    @spinachdip:
    I’ll give you that. There were *some* nights that I wish we had someone yelling at guys on our line. And you’re right, when we did have to work with a ‘Kitchen Nazi’ everything was forgiven if not forgotten by the end of the shift. I have to say, though, nobody was inviting him out for a beer at the end of the night.

  72. drjayphd says:

    @Bladefist: Methinks SMSDHubbard‘s just never read Kitchen Confidential. :)

  73. drjayphd says:

    Besides, people, isn’t the biggest news that they got seated at a Cheesecake Factory? Called ahead to the West Hartford location to reserve a table (birthday dinner and all) and was told that not only could they not hold one (fair enough), it’d be a three-hour wait. And here I thought the novelty had worn off after a few months. I’m afraid to find out how long you’d have to wait when they open P.F. Chang’s at Westfarms.

  74. spinachdip says:

    @Bladefist: Oh, I agree with you completely. There’s a reason restaurants keep an impenetrable wall between the floor and the kitchen. Not to channel Bourdain too much, but restaurant kitchens are often manned by sweaty, dysfunctional people. No need to show customers how the proverbial sausage is made.

    But yeah, no matter how fast the food needs to go out, the ultimate goal has to be customer satisfaction. You’d think a CCF manager would take that into consideration when they hire the chef.

    @seandavid010: I don’t think I worked under anyone who could be considered a “kitchen nazi”, but the conversations definitely were not fit for customer consumption.

  75. cupcake_kate says:

    The one and only time I have been to Cheesecake Factory we watched our waitress sit with a table of friends for 45 minutes while we waited for our check. The manager then took her side and said it was a Saturday night and they were busy so the wait is normal. I will never step foot in there again.

  76. coold8 says:

    Cheesecake factory and fine dining don’t go together in the same sentence. A good filet mignon doesnt cost $30 with 3 sides.

  77. zlionsfan says:

    I never worked in a Cheesecake Factory, but I’ve put in some time in a few kitchens, and I’ve worked with the occasional person like the chef described above. I suppose some people might respond to that approach, even if it weren’t audible outside the kitchen, but to me, generally two things were true when a guy treated us like that:

    1. He wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know.
    2. He sure wasn’t helping to resolve it.

    I’ve eaten at CF in Indianapolis a few times. I thought the food was pretty good, but reasonably priced only if you made two or three meals out of it. The wait, both in terms of time and room, was exactly as described above, and with the huge number of restaurants in the area, we don’t go back often. If we do, we’ll go mid-afternoon and finish up before rush hour.

  78. nycaviation says:

    If you ever walked back there and told Chef Ramsay to shut up he’d break your jaw for ya.

  79. RvLeshrac says:

    @TakingItSeriously:

    That’s funny. His employees love him, and he lauds those that stand out, lavishing them with money to open their own restaurants (as a partnership, of course), promoting them very regularly, and even supporting them when they choose to leave his restaurant for others or strike out on their own.

    He treats them like family, and expects them to do their jobs, cook his recipes according to his standards, and reads them the riot act when they screw something up.

    You’ve obviously never seen the Channel 4 ‘Kitchen Nightmares,” where he genuinely cares about the success of the restaurants he visits. He’s not simply yelling for the sake of it, he’s screaming a them because he’s genuinely angered by poor food, poor service, and poor sanitation.

  80. RvLeshrac says:

    @RvLeshrac:

    While I’m on the subject, Ramsay has taken the entire staff of his London restaurant to France, Italy, and Spain, at the least.

    When’s the last time your boss took you on a trip to another country, let alone drinking and clubbing?

    @seandavid010:

    Then obviously all was NOT forgiven.

    There’s a reason you’re supposed to take your work home with you.

  81. samurailynn says:

    I really only like cheesecake factory’s cheesecake. Why not get it to go?

  82. junkmail says:

    @drjayphd: GREAT book :)

  83. Lambasted says:

    The only type of restaurant where I appreciate seeing into an open kitchen are steakhouses that are cooking meat over open flames. It’s kind of neat to watch. Other than that, I have no desire to be anywhere near a kitchen, let alone hear what goes on back there.

    By the by, Cheesecake Factory’s key lime cheesecake and the seasonal pumpkin cheesecake are awesome. Unfortunately, their other food isn’t as good as it used to be. I’ve stopped ordering two of my favorite dishes because they don’t make them like they used to, which makes me sad.

  84. moore850 says:

    I’ve recently eaten there, and while it may be toned down in the sense of insults or something, its certainly not any quieter… you can definitely hear the line manager or whoever yelling as if they’re in the army.

  85. @donkeyjote: They like being employed. Yeah, sounds like being constantly publically berated is a great way to earn a living.

  86. avarice072 says:

    You gotta respect Sgt. Hulka….. He’s the big toe….

    And he took a hand grenade for you….

    Show him some love…

  87. pileofmonkeycrap says:

    My wife and I probably would’ve been laughing at hearing all the remarks…but that’s just us.

    If that’s how it is working in a kitchen, then the addition of some walls or sound proofing are in order.

  88. darkryd says:

    “our first impression of the Cheesecake Factory was terrible to say the least.”

    That would be the case regardless of the drill sergeant or not.

    Dont go back there!

    Eat local!

  89. frankspin says:

    In regards to Gordon Ramsay, he is not the chef he is perceived to be on the American version of his show. Watch any of his BBC versions and you will see he is not souped up jerk who does nothing but belittle people. You people also need to realize that these head chefs are in an industry that thrives on consistency. If you’re one line cook is falling behind you have to get on him and make him get caught back up. One guy falls behind and the whole kitchen falls behind. I’d also like to point out that everyone instantly thought of Ramsay when they’re plenty of other chefs who act in the same manner; belittling comments, constant ragging, etc. Read books by any renowned chef (Boulud, Ruhlman, Bourdain, Colicchio, etc) and you’ll see they are similar or have gone through similar experiences.

    As far as cheesecake factory goes, they are par at best. Yes they have a HUGE menu but that is scary when you begin to think about it. I’d rather see a restaurant have 10-20 items TOTAL because it tells me they have gotten those items down pat and can kill it every time they serve them. When you begin to have these overly complex menus the cooks don’t know how to fully execute each item on the menu; it also means ingredients that become less fresh because they’re not being turned over as quickly. CF is just a big gimmick change restaurant, nothing more. I find it funny people think of it as a fine dining experience. I’d say the only place worse then CF that trys to do the whole “fine dining” theme is PF Changs; what a waste of $50 that place was.

  90. iguanoid says:

    The last time I ate at CF I promised myself I would get 2 slices of cheesecake and skip the entree. But then I took too long staring at the menu and it was time to order and quickly ordered a burger at random. The burger I ordered was the Mondo Burger.

    When the burger came it was HUGE. Ridiculously huge. Like, practical joke huge. It was sorta like a Big Mac made with 1/3rd pound patties. It had the tri-bun, shredded lettuce, onion straws, random plops of goo, cheese and god knows what else. It stood about 5 inches tall. I do not have the ability to unhinge my jaw so the burger became a huge sloppy mess after 1 or 2 half-ass attempts at taking a bite. I was then left with a Mondo Burger Hotdish left on my plate. The burger bummed me out so much that I skipped the cheesecake.

    If I ever go back, I am just getting 2 slices of cheesecake, they can keep their silly jumbo burgers. What a joke.

  91. DH405 says:

    @InfiniTrent:

    “…and thank YOU for our daily dose of “open minded” name calling!”

    Please re-read. Point out which words actually were name-calling.

  92. wedgekun says:

    @jtkooch:

    “The problem is not with the yelling chef, but the fact that the kitchen can be heard from the dining room. I would suggest you stop being a baby, or don’t sit so close to the kitchen next time.”

    I agree with the first half of this statement but strongly disagree with the second half. If what’s going on in the kitchen is interfering with the ambience and atmosphere of the front of the house then something is very wrong. However, the worst thing to do in this situation is to blame your customers for not being thick skinned enough when this occurs and they complain. Part of what people pay for when they go to a restaurant is the relaxing atmosphere where they can enjoy their meal and be sociable with others. It’s something that I at least consider part of the service restaurateurs provide, and in this case, was severely lacking.

  93. RAREBREED says:

    @MyPetFly:

    Yeah, my best friend is SFPD, and we thought it’d be better to just leave quietly…

  94. Anonymous says:

    @ironchef: It’s the supervisors with an attitude like that which cause the inconsistent quality. The good leads are the ones who lead by example. The ones that jump in during a rush and help, the ones that pull and order from the window and quietly point out what was “wrong” with the order. Some times it’s portion control, some times it’s over/under cooked, other times it’s simply presentation. Treat your employees like children and they act like children. Treat them with respect and they act responsibly.

    And no, if you change your attitude today you won’t see results tomorrow. These relationships are something you have to build.

    @wedgekun: Exactly. Many of us can cook at home just as well, and with known good ingredients. All of use like dining out for a few simple reasons.

    Here are mine.

    1. No cleanup!
    2. No phone calls asking if we want to buy new siding. (Or any other interruption.)
    3. A nice atmosphere.

    A few things will steer us away pretty quickly.

    1. A poor environment (see the original post for a good example).
    2. Inconsistent quality. This is something that a good manager will “drill” in. (Not like this guy, but re-enforced at trainings and other appropriate times.) Average quality that is ALWAYS average is better than great quality, poor quality, great, ok, good, average, etc. That randomness is something that people don’t like. (Have you ever heard someone say “Man you should try this restaurant, sometimes the food is REALLY good.”)

    I had one owner who worked the line with us. If something was dropped on the floor he’d simply run down the cost for you. “That bun is $0.15, the meat is $2 and the toppings were another $0.50. I only make $3 off that sandwich, so instead of making $3 we now made $0.50.”

    He didn’t yell, he didn’t really make you feel like less of a person, (you did feel bad, but not attacked).

    The good managers also ate the mistakes. (If you put the wrong sauce on something it didn’t get thrown away, or eaten by another staff member [because that leads to trading "mistakes"] but they would either take it home or eat it on their lunch.) I saw one manager eat meatloaf 3 times, even though he didn’t care for it and could get a free lunch as a manager.

    In high school I worked at a pizza shop where we had a regular that ordered the exact same food every week at the same time. We wound up laminating his order and putting it behind the counter. He’d just call, say “hey, it’s Jeff” and we’d make is food.

    One week I dropped the whole order on the way out the door. We quickly re-made the order and took it out but I didn’t think to call him. In all fairness, neither did the owner. When we got the order out there Jeff was hot. Angry, never ordering from us again angry. I lied and said the owner had sent his apologies and said the order was on him. As I finished the sentence he was still angry, so I quickly added that he also said next weeks was half off. The guy laughed and said (owner) knew how to keep a customer.

    When I got back empty handed the owner asked what happened. I explained and the owner had us all stop working. (That never happened prior or again after, it was always rush rush rush.) He told them what had happened and told us that if we ever expected to get a manager position we should take risks like that. He ran down the profit he made from the one guy in a year and compared that to the stuff we’d given away in that meal and the one next week. He pointed out that the free food (probably less than $30) had MADE him money.

    I’ve worked under some people who never would have understand what this guy knew intuitively. Treating your customers and employees like you care is usually the difference between success and failure. When we messed up we knew it impacted the bottom line. We didn’t need scolded, after a while he didn’t even need to say anything when we messed up. We did our best to fix mistakes quickly and with as little impact to our customers as possible. In the first paragraph I mention supervisors who quietly point out mistakes. After a while at that pizza gig what made me feel far worse was just the owner fixing a mistake of mine. He didn’t need to say anything, he knew I knew what had gone wrong. Scolding would have accomplished only one thing, he would have alienated me.

    In the jobs where my mangers treated me poorly I never took a risk like the above, if my manger treated me like crap I’d never think of offering food free. My manger would likely have ripped my case and why should I go through that so he can get a bigger bonus in the end?