Reporting Joan Murray
PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4)- Local restaurants in a South Florida neighborhood are concerned about another incoming restaurant chain setting up shop in their community.
Restaurants in the Shops at Pembroke Gardens are hoping to block an incoming Cheesecake Factory for fear it will negative impact their business, including parking spots.
“This is bad news!” wrote Marcelo Montalván, president of Fuddruckers for Broward and Miami-Dade counties, in a letter to Duke. “A restaurant with this type of volume will negatively impact all of us who operate as restaurants. We have nothing against the Cheesecake Factory, but we do have a lot to say against our business being reduced and our guests’ parking being taken away.”
Parking may be the lynchpin. There are limited spaces and no plans to add any additional ones.
Pembroke Pines’ city commission is deciding whether to reject a Cheesecake Factory application for valet parking.
Opponents say because of the large crowds the restaurant attracts, it will create a traffic nightmare for patrons.
The mall’s current tenants include big chains like Brio Tuscan Grille and Fuddruckers, with just a few smaller operations.
Still, out of the shopping center’s nine full-service restaurants, six — the Village Tavern, Brio, Fuddruckers, Ra Sushi Bar Restaurant, Stir Crazy and The Pub — are worried, said realtor Jeffery R. Anderson.
One parent said Cheesecake Factory won’t stop her family from eating at Fuddruckers.
“My kids love the atmosphere, and you get free cookies!” she said.
Other shoppers told CBS4’s Joan Murray that the volume of visits the Cheesecake Factory will have a trickle down effect.
The Cheesecake Factory “will not create new sales, it will only drive down everyone’s sales at least 30 percent,” said Anthony V. Santarelli, president and chief operations officer of the Village Tavern Inc.
Anderson said he expects Cheesecake Factory to sell $8 million to $9 million of food a year, according to CBS 4 news partner The Miami Herald.
With that kind of draw and Cheesecake Factory’s broad menu, the other restaurants in Pembroke Gardens, at Pines Boulevard and Interstate 75, fear it could attract diners looking for everything from burgers, Fuddruckers’ specialty, to Stir Crazy’s Asian-style cuisine.
“Many restaurant tenants feel they came to this location knowing which restaurants would be co-tenants with them,” Anderson wrote in a letter to Duke Reality, which owns the shopping center. “Had they known Cheesecake Factory would be one of those tenants, the current restaurants would possibly have elected not to go to The Shops at Pembroke Gardens.”
A spokeswoman for the Cheesecake Factory nationwide said in an e-mail statement: “We take a lot of factors into consideration prior to selecting a new restaurant site, and certainly feel that the community is ripe with opportunities for all restaurants at Pembroke Gardens.”
A site plan application for a Cheesecake Factory valet station was denied by the Pembroke Pines planning and zoning board at a meeting last month. The board denied it because the station’s location could cause traffic congestion, said Henry Rose, head of the board. The application will come before the City Commission on Wednesday.
The Village Tavern and Fuddruckers have hired attorney Albert Frevola of well-known Broward litigation firm Conrad Scherer.
Frevola said he will argue at Wednesday’s meeting that the Cheesecake Factory should not be allowed to set up shop in Pembroke Gardens because it will create a parking nightmare.
Duke Reality does not plan to install any more spaces, he pointed out. A chronic lack of parking could lead customers to either leave or avoid the center, he said.
“What this would do is take an already parking-overcrowded site and make it even more overcrowded,” he said. “The Cheesecake Factory will create gridlock out there.”
The city doesn’t actually have the power to block the Cheesecake Factory, since Duke can pick its tenants, Rose said.
But if the commission changed the legally required number of parking spaces, that would force Pembroke Gardens to come up with more spaces if Cheesecake Factory came in.
“Or, Cheesecake Factory doesn’t come in,” Frevola added.
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