The Cheesecake Factory is coming to Canada, but at least one restaurant industry watcher isn’t sure if the popular U.S. chain is the right fit for Canadian tastes.
 
Cheesecake Factory Inc. announced on Wednesday that it would open its first restaurant north of the border this fall, at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
 
“For nearly 40 years, The Cheesecake Factory has been known for creating delicious, memorable experiences for tens of thousands of Canadians visiting the U.S.,” CEO David Overton said in a release. “We are now delighted to be expanding into Canada.”

Though best known for its namesake desserts, the casual dining restaurants also offer an extensive menu including trademark “Glamburgers” and a selection of healthy “super” foods.
 
Despite its success, Robert Carter, an executive director at market research firm NPD group, is hesitant about its potential in Canada.
 
“I think if they follow the exact same template that they’ll be in for a bit of a struggle in the Canadian market,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
 
While the restaurant’s large food portions have attracted a lot of American consumers, Carter said Canadians are more interested in food quality and the “made-in-Canada” brand.
 
“The whole local food movement is very positive in Canada so I would suggest they’ll have to have some of that positioning.”
 
Carter said The Cheesecake Factory’s main competitor will be restaurants like Boston Pizza, which appeal to families, but that the segment is declining more than any other.
 
“They’re competing in a marketplace in Canada that really hasn’t experienced much growth over the last 5 years,” he said.
 
“So if you’re growing in the marketplace in Canada you’re literally stealing customers from your competitors.”

Alethea Rowe, the senior director of public relations and global branding at The Cheesecake Factory said the company has no plans to change their menu for the Toronto location.   
 
“We’ve been getting requests from guests in Canada for years,” she said.
 
“When we’re asked to open in an area, it’s typically because people know us, they like us.”  
 
Rowe said the company has no plans to expand outside of Toronto as of yet.
 
The Cheesecake Factory runs 15 restaurants internationally in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Mexico and China. Rowe said so far their international locations have been successful.
 
“Some of our restaurants in the Middle East are as busy as our busiest restaurant here.”
 
Claire Santamaria, the general manager for the Yorkdale Shopping Centre said food and beverage has become a bigger focus for the mall.
 
“For us it felt like Cheesecake would be a very welcome addition to our existing tenant mix,” she said. “On the food and beverage side they really are a very good complement.”
 
The Cheesecake Factory was first established in Los Angeles in 1972.
 
The company incorporated a few years later and has since grown into a multinational operation, with more than 200 restaurants.
 
While most are under The Cheesecake Factory banner, it also owns the Grand Lux Café and RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen trademarks as well.
 
Shares in Cheesecake Factory Inc. traded down 81 cents at US$62.21 in New York on Wednesday. The company has a market capitalization of about US$3 billion.