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The Cheesecake Factory headed to Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth

Posted 5:14pm on Friday, May. 30, 2014

The Cheesecake Factory plans to open its first Fort Worth location, moving into the vacant Barnes & Noble Booksellers cafe space as well as the neighboring Ferré Ristorante e Bar in Sundance Square, which will close.

The remaining space in the former Barnes & Noble bookstore, which closed at the end of last year, is not yet leased but is being pitched to retailers, Sundance Square said.

The Cheesecake Factory will have 8,700 square feet of dining and 900 square feet of patio space, all along Fourth Street between Commerce and Calhoun streets, Sundance Square said in a statement. The restaurant will face the north side of the Bass Performance Hall.

Ferré, an Italian restaurant and wine bar that opened in December 2006, will close its doors at the end of business on Sunday.

Patrick Colombo, CEO of Restaurant Works, Ferré’s corporate parent, said Friday that the location has never drawn enough business outside of major events at the Bass Hall.

Alethea Rowe, a Cheesecake Factory executive, said it expects to open the new location sometime in the fourth quarter this year.

“The Cheesecake Factory is a well-known brand with a loyal fan base that local residents and visitors alike will enjoy,” Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square, said in a news release Friday. “This space is truly unique and very high profile.”

The Cheesecake Factory, a $1.8 billion company based in Calabasas Hills, Calif., grew out of a small cheesecake shop in Detroit that in 1972 moved to Los Angeles. In 1978, the founders’ son, David Overton, started the restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Today, the chain has about 170 locations, including two in Tarrant County, at the Parks Mall in Arlington and Southlake Town Square. It also has locations in Frisco, Dallas and Allen.

The Cheesecake Factory menu has about 250 items and 50 varieties of cheesecake and other baked goods. In January, Fortune named it No. 92 on the list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

The company said it plans to open 10 locations this year. It is also parent to Grand Lux Cafe, which has a location in the Dallas Galleria, and Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen.

In the past year, Sundance Square has had a few new restaurants, including Del Frisco’s Grill, Bird Café and Taco Diner, located in the Westbrook and Commerce buildings that bookend the new Sundance Square Plaza.

Colombo said a couple of factors influenced the decision to close Ferré.

Sundance Square, he said, was “going after big restaurants, and we weren’t doing the kind of numbers we were satisfied with. It was tough to attract a lot of people on nonevent nights.”

Barnes & Noble was in Sundance Square for 17 years. Late in 2013, a company executive said it wasn’t economical for the book retailer to keep the store open, and it closed Dec. 31.

At the same time, Barnes & Noble also closed a store at University Park Village shopping center in Fort Worth, just south of Interstate 30, where it opened in 1995. That space has since been divided for other retailers.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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