June 5, 2014

The Cheesecake Factory gets OK for alterations to Sundance buildings

The chain plans to open a 231-seat restaurant at Fourth and Commerce streets by the end of the year.

The Cheesecake Factory was given the go-ahead by a city review board Thursday to make some alterations to the exterior of Sundance Square buildings where it plans to open later this year at Fourth and Commerce streets.

The most visible changes will include a golden Venetian plaster on the exterior of the building that faces Fourth Street and most recently housed Ferré Ristorante e Bar. The plaster will have ornamental tiling and decorative glass that are signature design elements of Cheesecake Factory restaurants nationwide.

“We’re excited about this particular opportunity to come to Fort Worth,” Joe Avotins, a senior project manager with The Cheesecake Factory’s design group in Irvine, Calif., told the Downtown Design Review Board. “We want to invest heavily in the beginning. This is probably the most nuanced design process I’ve gone through.”

Avotins said the restaurant chain expects to open the 231-seat restaurant in five months. “By the end of the year, that’s the hope,” he said.

Sundance Square announced last week that the restaurant would take over some of the Barnes & Noble space in addition to Ferre. The bookseller moved out in December.

As soon as interior work is completed by Sundance Square, which owns the building, Avotins said, the restaurant will begin its work. He did not know exactly when that would be.

Sconces from Italy, granite, copper and other decorative glass will be incorporated into the exterior work, particularly at the entrance to the restaurant, where the entrance to the Barnes & Noble Cafe space was located. Awnings and the restaurant’s iconic red signs will be installed.

The 8,800-square-foot restaurant will be on street level from Commerce Street to Calhoun Street. Second-floor windows in those buildings will be lighted to appear as if the restaurant is two levels, including in the middle of the block featuring a Cheesecake Factory mural seen at many of its restaurants.

Street-level windows at the entrance will be frosted and blackened at the east end of the building to hide storage space and restrooms from passersby, he said. An patio enclosure that was installed for Ferré will be taken down and an awning installed to cover a new 44-seat, 900-square-foot patio, he said.

Johnny Campbell, Sundance Square’s president and CEO, said he expects The Cheesecake Factory to boost sales at nearby restaurants based on the large number of people it typically draws.

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