Cheesecake Factory looks to hungry holiday shoppers to boost earnings

Black Friday discounts aren’t just for people looking to buy holiday gifts. Shoppers rising at the crack of dawn need some sustenance as they search for the next doorbuster bargain.

Enter The Cheesecake Factory.

Sure, many other restaurant chains, including Starbucks, Jack in the Box and Dine Brands-owned Applebee’s all have various Black Friday specials. But few restaurants are as dependent on the health of American malls as The Cheesecake Factory.

After all, shopping center owner Simon Property Group has 41 Cheesecake Factory locations in its many malls throughout the country. (Cheesecake Factory has nearly 300 restaurants total in the United States and Canada.)

So far, though, it hasn’t been a great year for The Cheesecake Factory. Shares are up just 2% in 2019 — well below the 25% gain for the S&P 500.

The company’s same store sales were stagnant in the third quarter, rising just 0.4%. Earnings per share are expected to be flat in the fourth quarter as well.

But the restaurant chain, known for its eponymous cheesecakes and other gluttonous comfort food, hopes to be a popular destination for hungry Black Friday shoppers.

“The holidays are one of our busiest times of the year. A lot of our guests are celebrating with friends, families and colleagues,” said Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations & global branding for The Cheesecake Factory, in an e-mail to CNN Business,

“We are definitely a great choice for ‘refueling’ before or after shopping, and many of our guests do just that,” she added.

This year, The Cheesecake Factory is looking to lure diners with a special Black Friday weekend gift card promotion. Anyone buying a $25 gift card can get two free slices of cheesecake at a future visit in the first quarter of 2020.

Like many restaurant chains, the company is also hoping to take advantage of consumers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for fall and winter-themed treats.

Rowe said that the company’s Peppermint Bark Cheesecake will return to the menu on Black Friday. The company’s limited-time Pumpkin and Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecakes are also in restaurants through the end of November.

The Cheesecake Factory is also looking to take advantage of two of the biggest trends in retail — mobile shopping and delivery.

The company sells some of its more popular cheesecakes on Harry & David, an e-commerce company owned by 1-800-Flowers. The Cheesecake Factory also has a delivery deal with DoorDash.

Those partnerships could help boost sales and offset the fact that more consumers prefer to their holiday shopping at home on their smartphones, tablets and PCs instead of braving the massive crowds at the mall.