The Cheesecake Factory announced it wasn't paying April rent, eliciting calls of solidarity online amid a growing strike movement

  • In a letter to landlords, Cheesecake Factory announced it will not be paying rent for any of its 294 restaurant locations in the month of April. 
  • This is due to the "tremendous financial blow" to revenue dealt by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. 
  • Patrons of the restaurant largely responded with glee, especially those who are supporting the 2020 rent strike. 
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The 2020 rent strike has found an unlikely hero and ally in The Cheesecake Factory, the restaurant chain known for its confusing blend of architectural influences. In a letter addressed "to our landlords," Cheesecake Factory chairman and CEO David Overton announced the company will not be paying rent for any of its restaurants in the month of April, citing a "tremendous" blow to revenue due to the coronavirus crisis. This includes hundreds of locations and affiliated restaurant concepts across the US, Peurto Rico, and Canada. 

He continued,"Please understand that we do not take this action or make this decision lightly, and while we hope to resume our rent payments as soon as reasonably possible, we simply cannot predict the extent or the duration of the current crisis."

Already, the Cheesecake Factory has closed 27 locations since the crisis began. The remaining locations have been forced to limit orders to takeout and delivery. Only days ago, the company implied these adjustments would be enough  to "operate sustainably at present."

Five days after notifying landlords, the company informed investors of its plans to pause the development of unopened restaurants and make use of a $90 million credit line to increase available cash. In the past month, however, the Cheesecake Factory's stock price has fallen by more than 50 percent, leading many to wonder whether the company may need a bailout to survive. As Eater noted in its initial report, the Cheesecake Factory is one of the largest restaurant employers in the country with 38,000 employees. 

When reached for comment, Cheesecake Factory representatives told Eater the following: 

While it's difficult to watch everyone's favorite purveyor of caloric, cream-based food struggle to stay afloat, the internet has seemingly rejoiced in the news. In recent weeks, tenants around the world have been calling for a rent freeze and strike on social media, as many face layoffs, lost work, and other forms of financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a show of support for the restaurant chain, poet Fariha Róisín tweeted "Je suis Cheesecake Factory," a play on the slogan "Je suis Charlie." The phrase was originally used by the public to express unity with the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after a terrorist attack claimed the lives of twelve staff members in 2015.  

Others found solidarity with The Cheesecake Factory in their larger political battles.

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