The recovery at The Cheesecake Factory hasn’t wavered as the chain heads into the final period of Q2.
In an update Wednesday the 206-unit brand said quarter-to-date through May, same-store sales rose a whopping 196 percent compared to the pandemic-riddled 2020, and grew 7 percent compared to pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
This closely aligns with what the chain experienced in April when comps lifted 220 percent versus last year and rose 7 percent compared to two years ago. At that point, stores on average were operating at 60 percent indoor capacity. That has since grown to roughly 70 percent, or about 75 percent when including patios—an asset that 66 percent of units have.
Off-premises has continued to mix 33 percent even as dining capacity has increased. It’s only seven percentage points lower than Q4 2020, a time when many more dining restrictions were in place, including a stay-at-home order in California.
“We believe the appeal, quality, and increased awareness of our offering has enabled us to drive the highest level of off-premises sales dollars and maintain the highest level of off-premises sales when indoor dining rooms reopen relative to our publicly traded casual-dining peers,” said brand president David Gordon in late April. “And our ability to sustain off-premise sales around these levels for over a year reinforces our belief that a meaningful increase in off-premise sales could be a longer-term sales driver for The Cheesecake Factory as we emerged from the pandemic.”
Approximately 99 percent of The Cheesecake Factory locations are operating with reopened dining rooms. The only exceptions are one that is still operating via an off-premises only model and two others that are closed with plans to reopen next week.
Quarter-to-date through May, average weekly were roughly $226,500, which equates to about $11.8 million in AUV on an annualized basis. This is a slight improvement from quarter-to-date through April, which saw $222,500 in average weekly sales, or $11.6 million in AUV on an annualized basis.
The Cheesecake Factory’s strength has been felt industrywide. Restaurants posted positive same-store sales compared to two years ago for the 10th consecutive week through the week ending May 23, according to Black Box Intelligence. California was among the worst-performing regions on a two-year basis, but that may change come June 15 when the Golden State completely reopens its economy and removes its mask mandate.
Black Box also reported that high employee turnover rates remain a concern for full-service restaurants. However, this appears not to be the case at The Cheesecake Factory. The brand reported in late April that it’s at 90–96 percent of pre-COVID staffing levels, despite the challenged hiring market. It was recently recognized as one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For for the eighth consecutive year. The company ranked No. 35 and was the only restaurant brand included.
“I don’t know that we have as much catch-up to do, perhaps as some others in our space. We’ve always paid a very competitive wage,” CEO David Overton said a few weeks ago. “We have a very strong career continuum that shows advancement opportunities. We’ve also taken this opportunity to bring back a couple of our recruiters to help at the hourly level, the restaurants so they can stay focused on operations. So, really good about our plan in place.”