Monday, October 8, 2007

The Cheesecake Factory (part one)

Bayshore Town Center
Milwaukee WI

Some days are like a nightmare you can't wake from. The office is filled with varnish fumes from the ad agency down below, so lunch, on my bicycle, riding north on the beautiful fall bike trail, where restaurants are few. I decided to try Solly's, a place famous for putting big slabs of butter on their hamburgers, which kind of strikes me as kind of insane, yet... I have a weakness for butter! Also, this place is a former diner, in an old house, which they then moved down the road. It kind of reminds me of that farmhouse in “Days of Heaven" but on an awful suburban service road rather than a wheatfield. When I enter, the sight of two U-shaped counters full of Pillsbury Dough People inhaling enormous amounts of fried food made feel like I'd gotten between the hogs and the trough at feeding time, so I fled!

Feeling kind of silly, then, I rode up Port Washington Road to Kopp's Frozen Custard where last time I ate the entirety of a $5 banana split that nearly did me in. I like Kopp's, and how people from all walks of life sit on either side of the place (no dining inside) around little seating areas that look like little theatres-in-the-round, or miniature Colosseums for gladiatorial bouts of overeating. People are only inches from their cars, which makes them happy, and I like that I can pull right up on my bike and not lock it. On this day, however, already in a weird mood, I couldn’t help but think of that TV show, COPS (Kopp’s/Cops), and I felt like I was being "caught on camera." I had to quickly change plans.

Further north, I came to the Bayshore Town Center, a new kind of mall, which is kind of like what a mall would be like if you were able to drive your car right inside of it. It’s like “a mall with carbon monoxide.” They just built this place, and I heard that there were actual apartments or condos built right in. That kind of made me perversely happy because I thought how funny it would be to have an apartment in an old-style, 1970s, “Dawn of the Dead” MALL. But sadly, at this place, in reality, it's not so charming, becaue they have actually tired to make this place seem like a small town. This is the ideal town without crime, lots of police, and everything you need within a five minute, 5 mph drive from your parking garage. That is if in a small town you had a sports bar instead of city hall, a Victoria's Secret instead of a hardware store, and a Barnes $ Noble instead of a public library. This is a very, extremely sad and depressing place, unless you can work yourself up into a state, as I tried to do, of feeling like you were taking a vacation in actual HELL.

So where does one eat in Hell? My inspired choice was an enormous, multi-story, cartoonish looking monstrosity called THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY. Stay tuned for part two of this exciting report!

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