Because of the strong sales, The Cheesecake Factory is shifting its marketing back to brand-based messaging—a move that could have a significant impact on the company’s off-premises trajectory. With a rollout planned for next year, the chain plans to migrate its email database to a more robust CRM system to work hand-in-hand with a new rewards program, Gordon said. In the meantime, The Cheesecake Factory is revamping its website to become a more “commerce-forward platform” with a goal of increasing conversion rates and average order values for online orders. The new website is expected to launch by the end of 2021.
Gordon said there’s no reason why the brand wouldn’t be able to use the rewards program in a targeted manner.
“If we make a decision that we want to target off-premise opportunities as we did throughout COVID, we'll have the flexibility to do that as we learn more about those guests, which will be a key component of the overall strategy,” Gordon said. “It's to understand a little bit more about our guests generally, whether that's our ordering preferences or their spend habits and how we can continue to grow that spend over time, and that could be done through off-premise channel and also hopefully will be done by driving traffic back into the restaurants.”
The Cheesecake Factory’s sister brands, North Italia and Flower Child, are feeling a similar bump. For example, North Italia’s comp sales lifted 10 percent in Q2 compared to two years ago, and quarter-to-date, comps remain at the same growth pace. Also, off-premises is mixing 15 percent, down only 5 percentage points from Q1. Average weekly sales for all Fox Restaurant Concepts totaled $103,000 in the quarter.
Gordon has confidence in future expansion of Fox Restaurant Concepts, a group it agreed to acquire in the summer of 2019. The president is particularly optimistic about Flower Child.
“I think we still feel really great about Flower Child,” Gordon said. “We're sitting at 27 restaurants today in 10 states. It continues to perform well in just about every state, every different type of geography that it's going into. So we feel good about it. It did perform well and has performed well through COVID. I think they do a great job with off-premise execution.”