Highland Heights/Mayfield Heights
24265 Cedar Rd
Cleveland, OH 44124
by Beau Cadiyo
Five bites. One, I can understand. Two is suspicious. At three you start looking between the bun. At four you start laughing and mentioning it to the other diners, whereupon they start speculating as to when you will hit meat. When, at five, you finally get a bite of burger patty, you can’t help but be disappointed.
The Cheesecake Factory is a phenomenon: some lady moved to Los Angeles and started it up, and now it’s an international sensation. I went to one in LA seven years ago for a friend’s birthday party, and would have never gone to the one in Beachwood had Frank Keller not had a gift card. She said she owed me for helping her move; I am not one of those chivalrous gentlemen who would never hear of a lady paying for my meal. She gets her wallet out and I know I can put more money toward buying a Rolex or a Springfield Armory 1911. In short, she pays, I become more of a man.
It was packed, so we waited at the bar. Frank sat in the lone empty seat, next to two cougars who obviously knew the 20-something bartender a little too well. I stood, drinking my beer, while Frank argued with him about the amount of vodka in her martini; for $9, one would think you could taste the alcohol a bit more. We talked to the ladies about television shows. When it came time to be seated, we walked a short distance through faux-Egyptian splendor. Something about it reminded me of New York restaurants in the Roaring 20s, and I'm sure the plastic pharaoh heads will last longer than the pyramids. What will future generations think of our chain-restaurant ruins?
The waitress was surly, not bothering to do more than describe the specials and take our orders. When she next returned, with our food, we were just speculating on how horrible her night must be to be as rude as she was – not blaming her, but circumstances.
Then the five bites. Again, I can understand one bite, two is suspicious, etc. Beyond the five bites, nothing about the burger, or the beer, or the fries, or the atmosphere, or the patrons, or the bathroom, was special. Frank’s Thai chicken lettuce wraps were good, but that was small consolation. Five bites.
Frank got out her gift card; she ended up with 33 cents extra on it and, sans cash, no way to leave a tip. That was fine: neither the waitress nor the Cheesecake Factory deserved any of our money. Or her money, anyway.
Five bites. Five bites.