May 16, 2011, 03:30 AM
By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff
Erik Oeverndiek/Daily Journal
Crews are busy constructing a new restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory, at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo. The restaurant, inset, is set to open by the end of the year.
Those who take great pleasure in food will be delighted to hear the lavishness and decadence of The Cheesecake Factory is coming to the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo.
The old Mervyns, closed two years ago, will be transformed into a luxurious space for eating and socializing as construction crews are busy now in the beginning stages of the project.
The restaurant hopes to open its doors before the year is up, maybe as early as October, said Alethea Rowe, company spokeswoman.
“We did a lot of research in the area before deciding on Hillsdale,” Rowe said. “We looked at the strength of the shopping center and its current tenants before making our decision.”
There are currently seven Cheesecake Factories in the Bay Area with the closest to San Mateo being in San Francisco and Palo Alto. There are now 150 of the restaurants across the country with plans to open more, Rowe said.
The San Mateo site will be the company’s third new restaurant to open in the United States this year, she said. One just opened in Houston and another is set to open soon in New Jersey.
At least 250 people will be hired to work at the San Mateo restaurant, mostly in the kitchen.
“The Bay Area has been good to us and we are thrilled to be opening in San Mateo,” she said.
Each individual restaurant averages about $10 million annually in sales, she said.
“We supply an attractive, large tax base that will be a boost to the city’s general fund,” she said.
Mayor Jack Matthews is looking forward to the restaurant opening.
“I’ve been there before. I remember the portions were incredibly generous,” Matthews said.
The Cheesecake Factory serves more than just cheesecake, however, it has over 200 items on the menu, a full bar and stays open late.
“We are famous for our generous portions,” Rowe said. “They are perfect for sharing.”
Matthews, an architect, is especially pleased that the facade of the restaurant will open up to the street.
“This is good for the shopping center. I’m pleased Hillsdale is getting away from being an enclosed center and be more friendly to the street,” Matthews said.
The Cheesecake Factory signed a long-term lease with Hillsdale, Rowe said, and will start interviewing job applicants about a month before it opens.
All the staff will be new hires with the exception of the manager, Rowe said.
“Everything is made from scratch in the kitchen,” Rowe said. “That’s why we hire so many people. There is a lot of kitchen prep to be done every day.”
The restaurant will close at 11 p.m. weekdays and stay open until midnight or later on weekends. Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rowe said.
Councilman John Lee calls The Cheesecake Factory a great addition to the city.
“They have a great reputation and job creation is good stuff. I will be there when it opens,” Lee said.
The Cheesecake Factory serves pizza, pasta, seafood, steaks, salads, sandwiches and more.
The menu also features specialty dishes such as Chicken Madeira, Miso Salmon, Cajun Jambalaya Pasta and The Factory Burger.
Dessert, however, is what first brought The Cheesecake Factory fame.
The restaurant servers over 50 cheesecakes and desserts such as White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake and Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake.
“It is a high-end restaurant that doesn’t act high-end,” said Councilman David Lim, who frequented The Cheesecake Factory while growing up in Los Angeles.
“I’ve got memories of taking prom dates there,” he said.
The restaurant caters to all kinds of needs, he said.
“You can have birthdays there, its a good place for teens or you can just have lunch there,” Lim said.
The old Mervyns is being divided into a few new stores, including Forever 21, which occupies a spot at the shopping center already but will be expanding into a much larger space.