Sponsored by Cheesecake Factory
We've talked about a few different kids party ideas, and received an email or two from readers wanting to know how we plan parties when so much of our time is spent traveling. Our festivities are quick and nimble. We try our best to grab a few decorations and on-the-go activities even if we're headed to a hotel. That being said, there are times when we have something to celebrate and ZERO time beyond a quick sit-down meal. Oh yes, people, restaurant celebrations are a serious party tactic around here!
Growing up in a traveling family myself, the restaurant celebration and I go way back. Every year, my grandpa used to take the whole family out to whatever restaurant the birthday girl or boy chose. It was a big deal. All the family members would try to sway the youngsters to choose their favorite spot. One aunt would always pick weird new trendy places, we had the traditionalist who opted for a mom and pop shop each time, and the rebel who liked to drive-thru just to spite everyone. As for me? The Cheesecake Factory was my go-to.
Now, I had a lot of exposure to restaurants when I was a kid. My mom and my stepdad worked restaurant jobs, and I learned how to wait tables before I could drive. Because of that, chain restaurants were never my jam. I simply saw too much frozen, pre-packaged stuff yanked out of mass-distribution freezer storage and sauced up with a plastic container of nacho cheese. If you didn't already know, I'm sad to break it to you that this is how many chains produce their food. There's just no beauty in the process.
That being said, though, I do like consistency. And that's how I landed on The Cheesecake Factory's appeal at a young age. Somewhere along the line I learned that all 250 menu items are made fresh, from scratch, at every location. As the peacemaker in our family, I determined that this was the spot where my uncle would get a good cut of meat, my mom could find a tasty salad that wouldn't wreck her diet, and my finicky sister could find something that she wouldn't cry about. On top of all that, there was no denying that the dessert option was HANDS-DOWN the best in any town for celebrating a birthday! They do that awesome thing where they bring your desert with a candle and they sing to you right at your table. For any attention-seeking child (or adult, let's be real) there's absolutely nothing better.
The Cheesecake Factory is actually STILL my go-to. This hard-wired habit has been such a long-standing thing in my life that I get giddy when I walk in and notice a new cheesecake (like the Celebration Cheesecake above, you guys, it has sprinkles!). One of our business partners likes to send us Cheesecake Factory gift cards as a “thank you” when we help him close a great deal. I saw the email interaction from him and Nate the first time the guy asked for recommendations about what sort of treat to surprise me with. “Cheesecake Factory,” Nate answered without hesitation. “Chelsea has a genuine obsession with that place.”
It's like he knows me or something.
We've tweeted and Instagrammed and generally shared our enthusiasm for Cheesecake Factory like we do about any brand we like, and through the magic of the internet I found myself on a list of influencers who got to go on a tour and meet Chief Culinary Officer Donald Moore. This guy is the master in control of every single dish on the menu, and from what I gather, every chef at every Cheesecake Factory location is under his masterfully-tasty command. This is a lot of power to wield! I asked him how the kitchens manage such a HUGE selection, and he told me that every single chef needs to know (by heart!) how to make each dish.
I got to go behind-the-scenes and watch the avocado egg rolls being rolled by hand. I saw the fresh-made sauces being simmered. YOU GUYS. Total swoon moment for me. I got a peek at their new, drool-worthy menu items like pork belly sliders, cinnamon roll pancakes, a stuffed cheddar burger and Whiskey Paradise Punch. I did also tell Donald that if he ever goes crazy and removes my favorite lettuce wraps from the menu I WILL find him and he WILL put them back on there.
So, you're welcome.
They even put “Someday I'll Learn” on a custom menu and the thing is literally hanging up on my office wall right now. I have issues. Cheesecake issues. I suppose in the grand scale of issues, these are good issues to have.
Anyway, if you haven't been to The Cheesecake Factory in awhile, you should go. You should start a tradition of restaurant celebrations with your family so that you can all be as neurotic as I am. It's fun, and it takes the pressure off when I just can't plan one more party. Actually, my kids have tagged along with us on enough Cheesecake Factory dates that the whole thing has come full-circle now. When we find ourselves time-constrained around a birthday or on the road for an anniversary, can you guess which restaurant celebration they pick?
Do you do restaurants celebrations as a family?