When I was in high school, my friends and I had a tradition of going to The Cheesecake Factory every Friday night. We each ordered the exact same thing, and always rolled out of there stuffed to the max. While we knew what we were getting into each time we went, we always had a different experience that led us to fall in love with the brand.

No other restaurant chain in America compares to The Cheesecake Factory. Where else can I get crispy crab wontons, Glamburgers, falafel salad, pizza, and fried catfish all at one place? (Please, let me know — I’m hard-pressed to find another chain with so many delicious options.)

pizza, cheese, sauce, tomato
Jenny Georgieva

The Cheesecake Factory is popular because it has options. It’s the perfect place to go with a group of friends who are all picky, or who are all craving different things. Karen wants seafood? No problem, order the shrimp platter. Gina wants pizza? Margherita or B.B.Q. Chicken? They have both.

It’s also a great place to go if you’re planning a date. It can be tough to choose a restaurant when you barely know what the other person likes. So why not take them to The Cheesecake Factory — there’s a cuisine for every type of food lover.

spaghetti, pasta, sauce, basil, vegetable, angel-hair pasta, scampi, macaroni
Natsuko Mazany

Although the menu isn’t cheap, I’m slightly okay with it. For me, going to The Cheesecake Factory is a treat. I dream about the smell of the fresh baked bread on the table — always going for the sourdough and shamelessly asking for more. I love scanning through the masterpiece of a menu, flipping the pages as if reading a juicy book. And I have a weird appreciation for the decor throughout the restaurant. It brings a cheap elegance to an atmosphere that's inclusive to any type of crowd.

Being a loyal Cheesecake Factory customer, I always get the same thing — Thai lettuce wraps, fried macaroni and cheese, and red velvet cheesecake. One time, the menu got a new look, and I couldn’t find lettuce wraps. I had a mini-freak out and asked the waiter (with deep concern) if they still served them. He happily pointed them out to me and asked if I would like to try the Mexican lettuce wraps instead. No, no — I’ll stick with Thai.

lettuce, salad, vegetable, chicken, meat
Jackie Kuczynski

My friends would joke around with me saying that if I ever brought a date to The Cheesecake Factory, I shouldn’t order the lettuce wraps because they’re so messy. Well one time, I actually went on a date to my local Cheesecake Factory, and it was an interesting experience.

The waiter knew my order and assumed that I would have the usual. I told him I needed more time to look at the menu, and he gave me a quizzical look. I scanned through the magical book and got lost in its pages as if getting sucked into an addicting Reddit thread. I finally looked up at my date and thought, f*ck it. I’m getting the lettuce wraps. If I’m forced to choose between impressing a date or inhaling messy lettuce wraps — I’m going with the food.

I’m loyal to the Cheesecake Factory because there’s a familiarity and comfort in going there — like fast food, but better. I’ve gone to the Cheesecake Factory in sweats, in heels, for my birthday, for graduation, on dates, on group dates, and — fun fact — it’s one of the first places I legally bought my first martini.

Sarah Silbiger

The fun memories I have surrounding The Cheesecake Factory make it an experience that I want to keep having. And while its endless food options, Instagram-worthy cheesecakes, and fancy/cheap looking atmosphere all contribute to its popularity — it always offers a unique experience that attracts a beloved customer base. For me, the restaurant chain will always hold a cheesecake slice shape in my heart.