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Posted: Monday, 16 June 2014 6:17AM

Cheesecake Factory adds to New Orleans' chain restaurant boom

The infusion of national restaurant chains into the New Orleans dining scene continues.

The Cheesecake Factory opens its new restaurant at Lakeside Shopping Center this Tuesday, June 17.

"We're seeing that national chains are creating quite a footprint in the Greater New Orleans area," says Erica Burns, with the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

And, the association is reacting favorably to the chain reaction.

"It's great whenever a national chain can move into the area," Burns says. "It means more jobs for the people that live here and it's a great sign that the economy is doing really well when a national chain comes in."

The most recent addition will be The Cheesecake Factory's 169th location and its first in Louisiana.

Burns says the restaurant chain growth here is largely in the suburban areas, "...but we're seeing some national chains in New Orleans proper, as well."

"National chain restaurants do a lot of due diligence whenever they're selecting a prospective spot to open a new location. And, in the more suburban areas, there's a lot more land to develop where they have the room to build these restaurants from the ground up."

She says that can be a tough task in the city. "In New Orleans, you don't have as much space, and you may run into some historical preservation issues when you try to tear anything down."

"You'll find that in larger areas like Baton Rouge or the Northshore, they have space for a chain restaurant to come in and build from the ground up instead of taking over an existing spot."
And, for some chains, she says, that's a necessity.

"A lot of chains are going to have to build from the ground up. It's kind of hard to take an existing building and turn it into a chain restaurant, especially if they're known, specifically, for a look and feel...like P.F. Chang's, for instance,  where they have the huge lions in the front."

The new Cheesecake Factory is a 9,300-square-foot restaurant, which will seat 245 guests in three interior dining rooms and features two patios, a bar, bakery and valet parking..

Unlike the nearby Red Lobster, it's attached to the mall.

The restaurant has brought more than 300 new jobs to Jefferson Parish.

The Cheesecake Factory is known for its decor, large portions and extensive menu of cheesecakes and other desserts.

Among other chains most recently opening in the New Orleans area are Chipotle Mexican Grill, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Panera Bread, Buffalo Wild Wings, Smashburger and the regional chain, Izzo's Illegal Burrito.

Burns doesn't see the influx of chain restaurants as a threat to the area's local industry.
"We don't see that," she says. "We think that there's lots of room for lots of expansion in national chains and local restaurants."

(promotional image courtesy Cheesecake Factory)

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