The Cheesecake Factory opened its second Southwest Florida location Tuesday.
Coconut Point outdoor shopping center in Estero now has the nation’s 212th Cheesecake Factory. The Coastland Mall Center location in Naples opened in February 2005.
Ellenie Figuroa, who managed the Naples location, moved to the Estero location, 23130 Fashion Drive, to be its first general manager. She has risen through the ranks of the company since beginning as a server 26 years ago.
The company received about 2,350 applications and hired a little more than 300 employees to get things going.
Fortune named Cheesecake Factory to its 2023 annual list of top 100 companies for which to work, said Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations and global branding for Cheesecake Factory, which also has 31 international locations.
“Coconut Point is such a fantastic property,” Rowe said. “I think Estero itself is a great location right in the middle of Naples and Fort Myers. It’s very accessible.”
More than an hour before the 11:30 a.m. grand opening, Jonathan Holy arrived to be the first in line. He planned to order a slice of Very Cherry Ghirardelli Chocolate Cheesecake.
“I was really a big fan of The Cheesecake Factory,” said Holy, who works at the nearby Best Buy and moved to the area from Chicago. “I’ve been to a couple up in Chicago. It’ll be interesting to see what they did to the Stir Crazy.”
Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill used the 9,000 square feet of space between 2008 and 2019 before closing.
Cheesecake Factory didn’t divulge the cost of reconstruction inside, but the entire interior appeared to have been gutted and replaced.
Most appetizers fall in the $10-to-$20 range. Burgers ranged from $16 to $20, and most entrees cost $20 or more.
There are more than 30 different cheesecakes on the menu with slices ranging from $9.50 to $11.95. The most decadent cake on the menu isn’t actually cheesecake, but carrot cake, which contains 1,750 calories.
Everything on the menu is made from scratch daily at the restaurant except for the cakes themselves. Those are made at the company’s actual two cheesecake factories, in Calabasas, California, and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, before being shipped nation and worldwide.
“Believe it or not, we started as a cheesecake factory,” Rowe said. “In 1972, Oscar and Evelyn Overton opened a bakery in Los Angeles called The Cheesecake Factory. And six years later, their son David thought he needed to open a restaurant to showcase his mom’s cheesecakes.”