WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — When The Cheesecake Factory announced it was opening a restaurant in West Michigan, Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company owner Mark Datema knew it would happen.
“We are probably getting about 30 calls a day that are just for (The) Cheesecake Factory. Tuesday for grand opening, it was over 60 calls,” he told News 8.
A week after The Cheesecake Factory’s grand opening at the Woodland Mall in Kentwood, the mix-up continues.
“They want to make reservations, they want to order food. One guy just wanted a beer,” Datema said.
“He said, ‘I see there’s a line out the door, is there any room at the bar? Could I just come in and get a beer?'” he continued. “After I had answered who we were, and just jokingly I said, ‘Hey, pick up a six pack. I’ll sit and drink three beers with you right here,’ and you know, he just laughed.”
But Datema says most phone calls are answered the same way:
“We just tell them what company this is and that we make our products fresh every day here, local ingredients, local small company, not made in a factory far away.”
Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company supplies a couple of restaurants and stores, including the Bridge Street Market. It also handles orders from caterers, brides and other special events, in addition to regular customers.
Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company started on Plainfield Avenue in 1997. Datema bought the business a decade later and moved it to Alpine Avenue NW at Harding Street in Walker in 2009. Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company’s second location opened in 2017 at 4060 Chicago Drive SW in Grandville.
The company’s history is likely why Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company pops up at the top of Google searches.
“Grand Rapids Cheesecake Factory, Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company, Cheesecake Factory Grand Rapids — all them searches pull up the same thing and it’s us,” Datema said.
As of Tuesday, The Cheesecake Factory’s website was on the second page of results.
“So everybody just clicks on ‘call.’ They don’t look at the address, they don’t pay attention that it’s in Walker not … Kentwood,” he said. “So people just aren’t paying attention. There was no phone number or emails or anything for people to call the other place.”
Datema says while some people understand their mistake right away, others hang up the phone mid-sentence. Then there’s the skeptics.
“Some people take a little more convincing that they have the wrong number. And then people want us to give them that number or forward the call. You know, we can’t transfer it. We’re just a different company,” Datema said.
The misunderstanding is impacting both businesses.
“We have employees calling here, we have employees emailing us, asking if it’s OK if they’re not working tomorrow. So we get every kind of call. Today I had a semi delivery company that wanted to drop off my load of stuff for The Cheesecake Factory here. They had our name, our address, our phone number, everything,” Datema said Monday.
Clearing up the confusion takes time away from Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company’s operations.
“You’re washing dishes or you’re making cheesecake or decorating or whatever and then the phone rings and you’ve got to stop, answer the phone, and wash your hands and new gloves and go back to work,” Datema said.
But all of the calls are also opportunities.
“You know we tell them that we’re the local company, and they’re like, ‘Wow. We’ll be right in.’ And we flip some people. But a lot of people are looking for dinner or lunch, and we’re not that. But if they’re just looking for cheesecake, then they end up coming here,” Datema said.
The Cheesecake Factory spokesperson Alethea Rowe told News 8 this is the first time she’s heard of a problem like this.
“Our digital marketing team is looking into this. In the meantime, it’s so nice to hear that the other company is benefitting from the confusion,” she stated.
Datema expects the mistaken calls to eventually drop off and another problem to grow as the holidays approach: gift card confusion.
“People come in here and bring Cheesecake Factory gift cards. So they get their cake, come up here, hand you their gift card and we’re like, ‘Hey, we’re sorry, it’s, you know, (not ours),’ and they either put it back or they buy it anyway,” he explained. “That’ll happen for sure a lot more.”
But employees of Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company are holding onto their sense of humor.
“We just laugh about it,” Datema said. “We just keep on keeping on. And it will all pass. …People will finally figure it out.”
If you’re among the confused customers, Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company is located at 2255 Alpine Ave. NW in Walker and 4060 Chicago Drive SW and makes 22 flavors of cheesecake that can be custom ordered or picked up immediately in store by the slice or cake. Its phone number is 616.447.9045.
The Cheesecake Factory is located at the Woodland Mall off 28th Street SE in Kentwood and features a menu of more than 250 lunch and dinner options, including cheesecake. Its phone number is 616.956.6580, but the restaurant does not take reservations.