The chain this week announced plans to offer a "SkinnyLicious" menu at its 151 restaurants, starting at select locations next Tuesday. The five-week roll-out period ends on Sept. 9, the day the menu reaches Seattle.
"I don't think it's personal," says spokesperson Christie Stewart.
Stewart points out that nine other locations are scheduled to unveil the menu on the last possible day, so "it's not so much that Seattle's last."
According to Stewart, corporate trainers have to spend a week at each Cheesecake Factory to supervise the roll-out, forcing the chain to stagger the menu's debut nationwide. She wasn't sure how the schedule was developed. "I don't have any answers," she says.
Many restaurants located in areas associated with health consciousness are at the tail end of the roll-out list. Other cities waiting until Sept. 9 to get a crack at a SkinnyLicious burger and Mexican tortilla salad include Austin, Tex., Beverly Hills, Calif., and Cambridge, Mass.
The new menu will reach Tukwila's Cheesecake Factory on Aug. 30 and Bellevue's Cheesecake Factory on Sept. 6.
The Cheesecake Factory, the nation's highest-grossing restaurant chain per unit, has been hammered by nutritionists for serving entrees which carry more calories than some adults should eat in a day. In its coverage of the new menu, USA Today cited the restaurant's bistro shrimp pasta as having "the calorie equivalent of 14 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts."
That calculation was first made by Eat This, Not That co-author David Zinczenko, who selected two Cheesecake Factory dishes as the "worst foods in America," based on calorie, fat, and sodium counts.
"It used to be the only way you'd get out of Cheesecake Factory eating fewer than 600 calories was if somebody pulled the fire alarm," Zinczenko told the paper.
The new menu includes 50 items with 590 calories or fewer. There aren't any desserts on the new menu, but dieters can toast their sensible choices with one of five cocktails weighing in at under 150 calories.
Zinczenko called the new menu "a smart business decision."