Having lived in the U.S. now for more than 20 years, I can safely report that one of its greatest marvels is The Cheesecake Factory, with its 250-item menu, bizarre Vegas-strip decor and colossal portions. It's the palace of "premium mediocre" and one of the first places I take visitors unfamiliar with suburban American cuisine. At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos uneasily describes the restaurant chain's enduring success. Why do people want to sit under those Eye of Sauron fixtures, and why do they never change?
Plainly describing what a Cheesecake Factory looks like to someone who has never been to one may cause them to think you're lying or trying to trick them. That's what happens when you invite someone to imagine the unimaginable. Who would expect that you could walk from your local mall right into a place where Egyptian columns flank Greco-Roman accents, where mosaics buttress glass fixtures that look like the Eye of Sauron? With soaring ceilings, interior palm trees, and faux-wicker chairs (but, somehow, no water feature), it is a factory only of chaotic phantasmagoria.
The rhyme and reason behind the restaurant's decor is that Cheesecake Factories are meant to evoke wealth and extravagance. And what better exemplifies American opulence than the unrestrained acquisition of things already deemed splendid from everywhere but home? All these touches are markers of luxury, features and silhouettes borrowed from the places that rich people see on their rich people vacations. Smashing them all together should, if aesthetic functioned like arithmetic, create the most classiest place in history.
Everything from the farm to the fondant-striated poop you extrude two days later is part of a perfectly-engineered consumer machine. I'll take "things that haven't changed since the end of the cold war because boomers are in heaven there" for 500 please, Alex.