In the 1970s, David Overton had his sights set on rock 'n' roll.
Before opening The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in 1978, Overton dropped out of law school to pursue his dream of becoming a professional drummer, according to Restaurant News.
“I went to law school in San Francisco, but I dropped out because I wanted to pursue music,” Overton previously recalled. “I played until I was 27. That’s when I joined my parents in L.A. to build their cheesecake business.”
Overton was born in Detroit, Mich, where the story behind the eatery, now defined by its vast selection of desserts, first began.
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David Overton is the founder and chief executive of The Cheesecake Factory, based in Calabasas Hills. (Photo by Bethany Mollenkof/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
In the 1940s, Overton's mother, Evelyn, found a recipe in the local newspaper that inspired her “Original” cheesecake. The dessert was so successful it pushed her to open a small shop. However, in order to focus on raising her two children, David and Renee, she put her dreams of owning her own business aside. In an effort to keep her passion alive, she moved her baking equipment to a kitchen in her basement. While raising a family, Evelyn was able to supply her original cheesecake to restaurants in the area.
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By 1972, the family packed up and moved to Los Angeles. With hopes of taking another stab at owning their own business, they opened The Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Overton, who was playing music at clubs in San Fransico at the time, would frequently visit his parents shop in North Hollywood, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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However, after he noticed they needed help, so he moved back. Eventually, the shop began selling more than 20 varieties of Evelyns cheesecakes and other desserts to restaurants throughout the "City of Angels," according to the company.
Armed with his mom's treasure trove of recipes, Overton opened the first The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills and by 1992, the year the company went public, he became CEO.
To this day, Overton sits at the helm of the company that, since its inception, has proliferated into a desert empire with hundreds of restaurants around the world.
Overton is also credited with creating three other restaurants: the Grand Lux Cafe, RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen and the Social Monk Asian Kitchen.
The Cheesecake Factory, which had revenues that soared to $2.3 billion in 2018 under Overton's leadership, is one of the major hitters in the casual dining industry.