Debby Moorhead hungers for a Cheesecake Factory in Manteca.
And according to the Manteca councilwoman so do a lot of other people she knows.
Contrary to misconceptions city governments per se have little if anything to do with decisions for restaurants to locate in specific communities.
That said Moorhead believes the time is ripe for Manteca residents interested to make a serious push to grab the attention of Cheesecake Factory executives.
Moorhead notes restaurant industry representatives — read that dining options that are a notch or two above what national concerns Manteca has been landing — at the International Shopping Center Convention in Las Vegas have consistently noted the immediate market in a city needs 80,000 plus residents along with the right demographics.
The Cheesecake Factory falls into that category with the additional caveat they have been fairly conservative in expanding with just over 200 locations to date.
Moorhead, by the way, is among hardcore Cheesecake Factory fans that will drive on a regular basis over the Altamont Pass to the nearest location that’s at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton.
She’d like to make that drive a lot shorter by having a Cheesecake Factory locate along the Atherton Drive extension now under construction that will create extensive freeway frontage along the traffic rich 120 Bypass with two interchanges a mile apart. It is where Living Spaces Furniture has inked a deal for a 130,000-square-foot showroom warehouse. The firm chose Manteca for being at the heart of the fastest growing market in California with 1.1 million consumers within a 20-minute drive. Manteca is equal-distant from Tracy, Modesto, and Stockton.
But perhaps more important there are 20,000 new homes that are moving forward in Manteca-Lathrop. River Islands at Lathrop — a planned community of 11,000 homes — has sold almost 1,000 new homes in the past 2½ years. Manteca has nearly 9,000 living units that have been approved for building.
Those aren’t just abstract numbers. Thanks to secured water and adequate wastewater treatment capacity Manteca-Lathrop is among the handful of areas in California that is able to handle growth without major infrastructure expansion.
Toss in the fact Manteca-Lathrop-Tracy area has emerged as the top destination of those with robust Bay Area paychecks that want something that is a rarity today west of the Altamont Pass — new traditional freestanding homes and decent resale homes under $1 million.
They have a Bay Area appetite for consuming that has not gone unnoticed by niche retailers such as Hibbett Sports that’s getting ready to open in Manteca’s Stadium Retail Center. The retailer has built a business around weekly releases of high quality athletic shoes that typically sell for as much as $190 a pair.
Moorhead believes a Cheesecake Factory along the 120 Bypass would benefit greatly from a large share of Yosemite National Park’s 4.1 million annual visitors that originate from the Bay Area or national/international tourists who have made San Francisco and Yosemite among their top five California destinations.
There of course is the draw of the Manteca Bass Pro Shop that pulls more than 98 percent of their 2.8 million annual visitors from outside of Manteca from what they have identified as the third largest “mega market” as defined by the 18 million consumers within a 100-mile radius.
Big League Dreams scores an annual attendance of 500,000 spectators with the lion’s share drawn to watch their out-of-town teams play in tournaments on six replica Major League Baseball replica fields that are booked solid for weekend play a year in advance.
Manteca will become even a sweeter choice for a Cheesecake Factory when the 500-room Manteca Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark with a conference center that’s breaking ground next month opens in early 2020.
Although it is self-contained with a number of restaurants and a massive family entertainment area with everything from a climbing wall, youth bowling alley, laser tag, arcade and more various Great Wolf resorts such as the location in Ground Mound in Washington State have generated significant business for nearby restaurants and attractions.
The fact Manteca has a 1,460-home Del Webb community, another age-restricted community of 490 homes breaking ground as TruLiving Manteca, and an even bigger active retirement living community on the drawing board is a big bonus as well.
Of course a lot of communities would like to snare a Cheesecake Factory.
That’s why Moorhead thinks a coordinated campaign including petitions and perhaps even contacting the firm directly via its email contact with specific reasons that would catch the attention of decision makers makes a lot of sense.
The firm’s website — thecheesecakefactory.com — under “contact us” has a pull down tab under “contact category” that allows you to click on “new location suggestion.”
The fact you hunger for a place like The Cheesecake Factory may not get much notice. But pointing out why Manteca should be picked to join the ranks of one of the relatively few Cheesecake Factory locations — economic, population within a 20-minute drive, growth, and demographics — is what you need to emphasize.
There is a reason why the likes of Bass Pro Shops, Great Wolf Lodge, and Big League Dreams that rely heavily on having a significant pool of consumers with discretionary income chose to locate in Manteca.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.