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Good Grove/Bad Grove: Chain of Food Edition

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Madame Wu’s had probably the best location of any restaurant in the Grove – right next to the movie theater, right by the garage – and it had a great balcony for ogling/spitting on the pedestrians below. (You know it was tempting.) But there was a reason it was also typically the easiest restaurant to get into. The food was, well, not very good. Alas, a sign in front of Madame Wu’s announces that the restaurant has closed its doors permanently. We won’t dwell on the obvious – that for your restaurant to flop at LA’s most overcrowded and overhyped shopping complex, it has to be pretty bad – because Madame Wu’s was never terrible, just mediocre, and because along with news of Wu’s demise comes an equally intriguing tidbit. Filling its space will be none other than well-known Uber-chain The Cheesecake Factory.

As exciting as the news may be, a Cheesecake Factory at the Grove is probably a mixed blessing. Known for its extensive and advertisement-filled menu, its huge portions and, of course, the titular dessert treat, it’s a definite culinary step up from Madame Wu’s. As chain restaurants go, the Factory is classier than Applebee’s, less greasy than Bennigan’s, and tastier than just about any other ubiquitous foodery we can think of. That being said, we can’t imagine ever going to the Cheesecake Factory at the Grove once it opens.

Isn’t the Cheesecake Factory already the world’s most overcrowded restaurant? And aren’t waiting times at the Grove’s other popular restaurants already unbearable (up to two hours at peak times)? And isn’t the space Madame Wu’s is leaving behind a little small to accommodate the crowds the restaurant is sure to attract? We love the Cheesecake Factory, and we have no doubt it’s a good business move for the Grove, but you won’t catch us picking up beepers from their hostess on a Friday night, because we don't feel like waiting until midnight to be seated.

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We can't be too hard on this latest Grove news, though. At the very least, we're hoping this new Factory outpost will siphon off just enough business from the other Cheesecake Factories in the area to make them easier to get into. And that alone tips the balance just slightly towards making the impending Cheesecake Factory a part of the Good Grove.