Stone in Architecture / Commercial

Oceanfront dining area enhanced with Chinese quartzite

July 5, 2011
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With 150 locations throughout the country, The Cheesecake Factory has grown to be a leader among “upscale casual dining” restaurants. The concept was inspired by Evelyn and Oscar Overton, who started a small mom-and-pop shop in Detroit, MI, in the late 1940s to sell homemade cheesecakes. In 1971, the Overtons moved their cheesecake business to Los Angeles and opened a 700-square-foot store called “The Cheesecake Factory.” Only eight years later, the couple’s son, David, branched out and opened The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA, which over time flourished into a successful chain of restaurants. One of the standout franchises in the restaurant group is the Marina Del Ray, CA, location, which offers its diners oceanfront views. And to further enhance the overall dining atmosphere, the restaurant recently underwent a renovation of its outdoor patio and downstairs bar and kitchen, including new Chinese quartzite floor tiles.

“It is an old building with a unique location,” said Grady Bryant of Grady’s Floor Covering in Hacienda Heights, CA, the installer for the project. “It is right on the beach. The Cheesecake Factory has been in there for years. They had remodeled the upstairs interior bar at one time and redid the multi-levels of wood decking. When they got to the outside area and downstairs bar and kitchen, they decided to start with the patio. They wanted quartzite from the beginning. It holds up well with traffic and staining.”

And although it was determined early on to use quartzite, the selection process was rather extensive, according to Bryant. “It took many weeks to decide on a color,” he said. “I took samples back and forth to their office. This particular slate has a very wide range of colors. The process kept going and going.”

Bryant explained that he was able to hand pick several colors that The Cheesecake Factory’s in-house design team desired. “We ended up making a mock-up with multiple patterns,” he said, adding that the final colors ranged from golden to sea foam green — coordinating with the setting sun and blue-green ocean waters.

A combination of sizes, including 24- x 24-, 12- x 24-, 12- x 12-, 6- x 6- and 6- x 12-inch formats as well as 1-inch random lengths, were employed for the outdoor patio. All of the pieces feature a cleft finish and have a thickness of ¾ inch. “We ended up cutting every piece of tile [on site] to make it modular, and we knocked off the extreme clefts so people wouldn’t trip,” said the installer.

This was a particularly difficult installation due to the fact that the design team wanted 1/8-inch grout joints, according to Bryant. Additionally, multiple patterns, curved steps, columns, planter walls and serpentine curved planters also posed some challenges. Moreover, the circular fire pits featured custom-cut 1-inch strips and fabricated 2-inch quartzite caps with chiseled coping edges.

“It actually took some time installing,” said Bryant. “It kept changing as we were going. We were dealing with a lot of on-site problems. A new slab was poured, but it transitioned into the old slab going into the bar and kitchen — sloping in various directions.” Each piece was back-buttered and installed using ¾-inch notch trowels.

A selection of setting materials from Laticrete International, Inc. of Bethany, CT, was used to install the Chinese quartzite. This included Laticrete 9235 Anti-Fracture and Waterproof for expansion joints and waterproofing vertical to horizontal transitions. Additionally, two coats of Eco-Lab Pinnacle Stone Impregnator was applied to the quartzite — one prior to grouting and the other after the installation was completed.

“We gave them a little more than what they asked for,” said Bryant. “Laticrete gave them a 10-year warranty since I used all its products. It turned out beautiful.”

The Cheesecake Factory

Marina Del Ray, CA

Senior Project Manager: Teresa Kelly, The Cheesecake Factory

General Contractor: Babuscio Construction, Inc., Irvine, CA

Stone Installer: Grady’s Floor Covering, Hacienda Heights, CA

Stone Suppliers: Emser Tile, Anaheim CA; Spark Stone, Anaheim, CA

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