At Pique, we sure-as-heck love this city, and there are more than a million reasons to keep loving it. However, there are about a million businesses, clubs, attractions, and improvements that Fort Wayne could acquire (preferably this decade) to make things even better here.
Like any city, there is always room for improvement. So each week we’re going to highlight one potential improvement with hopes someone out there is reading who can #MakeItHappen.
A Cheesecake Factory?
I put out the question on social media just before this series began, asking others what Fort Wayne needed. A couple of those suggestions have been brought up and thought out. Some of the suggestions were already up and running; a few people just needed pointed in the right direction. And some of the suggestions, and their recurrences, were surprising. One of which, the Cheesecake Factory, was brought up many times. This elicited questionable response from other participants, myself included.
But why do so many people want a chain restaurant with over 190 locations nationwide in our backyard? The restaurant seems a fairly “basic” choice given a pretty open-ended call for restaurant recommendations to be added in the area. With a new Starbucks going in downtown within walking distance of the current one, and even closer to a place like Fortezza Coffee, it also adds to the narrative. When presented with the best choices, it would appear that some people still want regular choices, and the market, it would seem, is beginning to yield to this calling.
So maybe the Cheesecake Factory is just a symbol that people want more middle-of-the-road choices to simply exist within a few-minutes’ drive. Whether or not they’d be visiting these establishments over other local businesses in the area remains to be seen. But the idea is at least out there gaining momentum, and I think it goes deeper than a fierce craving for cheesecake.
We, as a city, seem to at least want the options that other cities have, especially when it comes to chain businesses. (Trader Joe’s and PF Chang’s were also mentioned numerous times in my survey. Stay tuned for opinions on those chains later.) We want to compete with the likes of Indianapolis, but with roughly 600,000 fewer people we shouldn’t expect to, and that’s okay. But we need to make peace with what and where we are. There are limitations to being a smaller city, but there are countless advantages, as well, with or without chains.
That said, I can imagine a Cheesecake Factory doing pretty well in the area, and multiple contributors were simply enamored by the choice of 35 different types of cheesecakes being so close. So maybe people want more gentrified options, or maybe the area simply has a sweet tooth for cheesecake that’s not being satisfied.
The best idea to bridge this gap might be to make a local version of something like the Cheesecake Factory. Make it happen here, and just here, but with that hard-to-define, yet recognizable Fort Wayne twist.
Don't forget to check out the Pique store to get our most recent issue!