Riding high on the popularity of its upscale casual restaurants, Los Angeles-based Cheesecake Factory Inc. is scheduled to open a new concept called Grand Lux Caf & #233; in the Beverly Center this coming spring.

Considered more upscale with fewer menu items 120 vs. Cheesecake Factory's 200 offerings the Grand Lux Caf & #233; currently has only one location at The Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas. That location generated $950 per square foot in sales during 1999, roughly equivalent to the average per-square-foot sales for the Cheesecake Factory chain, company officials said.

The Beverly Center in Los Angeles will be the second Grand Lux location, with future plans for an outlet in Chicago.

The company owns 35 restaurants under the Cheesecake Factory name, seven of them in L.A. County and the rest scattered across 13 other states. The Grand Lux was created specifically for The Venetian mainly because there was already a Cheesecake Factory in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. The company wanted to create a new concept that would target a different customer segment in Las Vegas, rather than compete with its own outlet, according to Howard Gordon, senior vice president of business development and marketing.

The decision to put the second Grand Lux at the Beverly Center follows much the same logic. The mall is within close proximity to the original Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills. Another Cheesecake Factory is nearby, in Brentwood. Company officials like being in Beverly Hills because of the upscale demographics, but didn't want to add a third Cheesecake Factory so close to the other two.

Allan Hickok, a restaurant analyst for U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, said he is confident the Beverly Center's Grand Lux Caf & #233; will be successful, given the Cheesecake Factory's track record since 1978.

"This company is one of the absolute best restaurant operators in the country, bar none," Hickok said. "They have an exemplary long-term success."

The new Grand Lux Caf & #233; is slated to open in 12,000 square feet of space that formerly housed a bank on the corner of Third Street and La Cienega Boulevard.

The new concept will offer a limited number of the company's namesake cheesecake desserts. It will also offer menu items like lobster and veal, not found at the Cheesecake Factory.

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