The 40 Varieties of Cheesecake Born In A Basement In Detroit, Michigan, Grew Up To Be The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant

Casual Concept, Restaurant Startup Resources, Restaurant ThemetasticLeave a Comment


cheese cake factory logo

The 40 Varieties of Cheesecake Born In A Basement In Detroit, Michigan, Grew Up To Be The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant

It’s Not About Where You Begin, It’s Where You End Up – “A Casual Dining  Success”

Evelyn Overton, the mother of those 40 cheesecakes died the age 75 but what she left behind was remarkable.

She started the business by baking cheesecakes in the basement of her home for friends and relatives.

chocolate cheese cake

This success story sounds familiar; many American Dreams start right in a house in a neighborhood near you!

Examples of this:

~ Amazon-Jeff Bezos founded in 1994 as an online bookstore. At the time, he ran it out of his garage in Bellevue, Washington. He sold his first book in July 1995 and issued his IPO two years later in 1997. Today it is the world’s largest online retailer.

~ Disney-about 45 minutes down the road from Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA, there is a house in Los Angles where The Walt Disney Company got its start. In 1923, the house belonged to Walt Disney’s uncle, Robert Disney. Walt and his brother Roy moved in with their uncle and set up “The First Disney Studio” in the one-car garage out back. There they started filming the Alice Comedies, which was part of the original Alice’s Wonderland. Today, Disney is the highest-grossing media conglomerate in the world.

~ Yankee Candle Company- In 1969, at 16 years old, Michael Kittredge made his scented candle in his garage out of melted crayons as a gift for his mother. The neighbors took notice and expressed interest in buying Kittredge’s candles, so he started mass-producing them. Four years later, Kittredge outgrew the garage so he moved the Yankee Candle Company to an old mill in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Today it is the largest manufacturer of scented candles in the US.

Whether it’s a basement, a garage, or a spare room, every business has humble beginnings.

It’s easy to say I could never start something like that. They didn’t come out of the shoot trying to make a huge dent in the Entrepreneur world, creating Cheese Cake Factory, Amazon, Disney and Yankee Candle. It took most of them years to get where they are today. They started by creating a cheesecake, an online bookstore, a cartoon and a candle.

‘If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It”-Walt Disney

The 40 Varieties of Cheesecake Born In A Basement In Detroit, Michigan, Grew Up To Be The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant…

Evelyn Overton dreamed it but I’m sure she never thought her son would follow in the footsteps of her dream.


The cheesecake business was booming, local restaurants as well as individuals where ordering her cheesecakes. “As the cakes became more popular through word of mouth, my father developed a small delivery route.” David Overton –son and Co-founder

Finally, Overton and her husband, Oscar, launched their bakery company in 1972. The Calabasas-based bakery expanded to offer more than 40 varieties of cheesecake and other baked items.

David Overton joined his parents in the business in 1974.

In 1978, David Overton opened a small salad-and-sandwich place, the first Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills, which sold 10 different varieties of Overton’s cheesecakes on their one-page menu.

They still expected to make most of their sales to other local restaurants, and eventually to Ralph’s grocery stores and Price Club warehouses.



The one page menu didn’t last too long and now the Cheesecake Factory, is known for their multi-page menus and large portions which have, made it the profitable restaurant it is today.

As you can see the restaurant baked it’s way to the top!

The brand has the best traffic in the casual dining sector, according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley. And restaurants are ridiculously profitable: the average Cheesecake Factory location sells $10.5 million in food each year, among the highest volumes in the industry.

“You’ve Come a Long Way Baby to Get Where You Got to Today” a quote from the Virginia Slims Commercial- the first cigarette created for woman! I don’t mean to associate or compare a health hazard to the Cheesecake Factory but any attention and marketing towards the female gender is at least proving we are not second class citizens and we are a driving force in the economy and the world.

Sorry about the detour from food but I’m honoring Evelyn Overton and the reason for this post.  She was a Woman with a Dream and became a Successful Female Entrepreneur in a dominant male industry.

“All of this was made possible by the entrepreneurial energy, drive, enthusiasm, attention to quality and detail, and creativity of my mother,” David Overton said.

Why Is The Cheesecake Factory Beating Everyone Else In The Industry?

“I live very near a Cheesecake Factory and think their food is fabulous – good flavor and well presented. My daughter had her wedding reception there and we still get compliments 20 years later on how wonderful the reception went, including the cheesecake wedding cake. And they make the best Long Island Iced Tea I have ever tasted – and I have tasted a lot.”-customer on the internet

Why Are They Smashing Their Competitors?

~Great Quality-basically all of the Cheesecake Factory’s food is from scratch. The high quality of the food keeps today’s choosy customers coming back. The only thing not homemade is the cheesecake, which comes from an actual factory in California.

salad at cheesecake factory burger at cheesecake cheesecake entree

~There Is Something For Everyone- The Cheesecake Factory is appealing to all because there’s something for everyone. Cheesecake Factory’s huge menu, which includes seafood, pasta, burgers, and more, appeals to a broad audience. They know what their customers want and know how to make them happy.

~Smart Specs & Operations – the kitchen is “laid out like a manufacturing facility,” allowing room for the kitchen crew to hand-chop veggies, meat, and seasonings. Cooks prepare the dishes. most of today’s casual dining restaurants have more micro waves than cooks. Not at the Factory- The operations system helps the company prepare food fresh and gets dishes out faster.

Specification from how to fold a napkin to the way a recipe is prepared for a sauce.  You’re taught and expected to uphold consistency in the menu and services, it’s what customers demand and what has to remain in effect for restaurants to survive and succeed.


When I worked in Houlahan’s in Garden City New York their facility was set-up very similar to Cheesecake Factory. Everyone received an employee manual and 2 weeks training, you knew what was expected of you from dress code to your performance and job description outlined.

How can you serve delicious food to droves of customers in a reasonable amount of time. Houlahan’s was located inside a mall just like many of the Cheesecake restaurants and we where not far from the Nassau Coliseum, home of the Islanders and concertgoers. It was not unusual to serve hundreds of people several times during the course of the day and evening. I applaud the Cheesecake Factory for running their restaurant the way they do. I was proud to be a cook and prep cook at Houlahan’s in the beginning of my restaurant career, it wasn’t the Cheesecake Factory but their beliefs and operation systems where very very close.

~ Décor and Growth-as they have expanded out of state and country with restaurants in Washington, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, New York, Las Vegas and Houston etc. and The Cheesecake Factory Bakery Cafe division operating in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, their stylish but casual and affordable format has lead the way in casual dining.

cheesecake_rancho_mirage005 cheesecake display cases


cheesecake seating

“The number of openings each year is governed by the availability of premier sites not by capital or infrastructure constraints,” Overton said.

Being careful about where it expands has helped the company be successful.
It is obvious the Cheesecake Factory has it down to a science. The wait might be long for a table at times but not for your food. It is rumored that the company uses nearly 98% of the food it buys. That is amazing for a business that deals with an enormous amount of products that have limited shelf lives.

This entrance makes me feel like I’m walking into a glamour’s 5 star hotel!

You can’t help but feel special-this isn’t your fathers causal dining restaurant anymore!

cheesecakefactory entrance

Bottom line here regardless if you like the restaurant or not you have to salute Evelyn Overton for her talent and a dream she saw through. Her legacy is continuing to create a model for casual dining models of the future.

No one says you have to become a Cheesecake Factory Restaurant!

You can take you talents if you feel strongly about them anywhere and anything is possible.

Believe in you and everyone else will, whether it’s an outstanding apple pie, chili, pizza, burger or chicken recipe, perfect it and who knows what can happen.


If you must, start out in your own home, you can always move out when you out grow the space! That’s a sign of production, busting out of the walls…you’re definitely on to something BIG.

If you have some BIG restaurant ideas and don’t know how to get started, let us HELP follow our Blog-start with our FREE guide.

To Your Restaurant Success!

PS. 10 Stories of Inspiring Women From the Restaurant Industry You Need to Know!
















Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.