The Cheddar chain is still cooked from scratch | News, Sports, Work


Service Manager Tim Evans at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Riverdale.

Valerie Phillips, specifically for the Standard Examiner


A combo platter of slow-smoked ribs and chicken strips at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Riverdale, with sides of fries and sweet baby carrots.

Valerie Phillips, specifically for the Standard Examiner


Every guest at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen gets a free croissant with honey and butter.

Valerie Phillips, specifically for the Standard Examiner


The Monte Cristo sandwich is a signature item at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Riverdale.

Valerie Phillips, specifically for the Standard Examiner


Chicken pot pie — served here with broccoli casserole — is a comfort-food classic at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Riverdale.

Valerie Phillips, specifically for the Standard Examiner

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When national restaurant chains open their first location in Utah, there’s usually a big rush to try it. And that’s what happened when Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen opened in Riverdale last July.

“I’ve found that the Utah community gets excited whenever a new place to eat comes along, and we had an opportunity to dive into that,” said Tim Evans, service manager for Riverdale Cheddar’s. “It was busy from the first jump. For a lot of people, it was their first time trying Cheddar’s, so providing that experience was quite satisfying for us.”

Although new to Utah, the chain was founded in 1979 in Irving, Texas, and now boasts 181 locations. When founders Aubrey Goode and Doug Rogers were looking for a name for their fledgling restaurant, the name “Cheddar’s” was suggested by a fifth grade class.

Until 2015 it was known as Cheddar’s Casual Café. The name was then changed to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen to showcase the tradition of cooking and baking its menu items inside.

According to the company’s website, “Scratch Kitchen should take the time to prepare each dish instead of defrosting it. At Cheddar’s, we use quality ingredients and take the time to prepare them in our kitchens every day.”

Cheddar’s is known for hearty dishes like chicken pot pie, hand-breaded fried chicken tenders, and BBQ ribs that are smoked inside.

“We are a professional restaurant and we offer great food at great prices with a great atmosphere,” Evans said. “We say, ‘You get a lot for not much.'”

The chain is part of the Darnden family of restaurants, which includes Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, among others.

Once dinner or lunch guests are seated, they are greeted with signature honey and butter croissants, crisp and flaky, with a sweet, buttery glaze. “The first round is on us,” Evans said. Then you can order more for 99 cents each.

Chicken pie with creamy sauce, chicken, vegetables and flaky crust is one of the most popular items.

“It’s nice, filling comfort food,” Evans said. “This is one of our most popular items.”

Another signature dish is the Monte Cristo sandwich. Layers of turkey, ham and two cheeses are battered and fried, dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry preserves for dipping.

How does Cheddar’s Monte Cristo compare to Disneyland’s iconic version? “I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I support our Monte Cristo — it’s one of our most popular dishes here and people keep asking for it,” Evans said.

Slow-smoked BBQ ribs are another favorite and are often ordered as a half rib and chicken tenders combo platter, with a choice of two sides.

The Broccoli Casserole is one of the most ordered side dishes – tender crispy broccoli florets and rice smothered in a creamy cheese sauce.

The chicken tender platter—five hand-battered chicken tenders—is called Special No. 8 for Cheddar’s partnership with NASCAR driver Kyle Busch.

A hidden gem on the menu is the New Orleans Pasta – penne pasta, chicken, grilled shrimp, sausage, bell pepper and onion topped with a Cajun-spiced Alfredo sauce. “All those flavors are like home to me,” said Evans, who grew up in Houston. “For those who haven’t had the chance to visit New Orleans, it’s like going there without traveling.”

Evans has been with Cheddar’s since 2012, starting as a server and working his way up to management in the Houston area.

“One thing I like about Cheddar’s is the opportunities for growth,” Evans said. “I’ve always wanted to grow and travel and I saw they had an opening in Utah. And here I am.”

Over the years, he has researched the menu quite thoroughly.

“My favorites change from time to time, but right now it’s our tender chicken dish tossed in our honey hot sauce. I love spicy food and this is a great combination of spicy and sweet paired with chicken.”

Hot honey seems to be having a trendy moment in today’s culinary scene, especially with fried chicken. But at Cheddar’s, many diners also want their buffalo sauce chicken tossed.

Evans said starting out as a server helped him in his current position.

“I’ve always asked myself, ‘How would I like my government to be?'” he said. “Now that I lead my team, I’ve been in their shoes, so I can relate.”

Of diners coming to the restaurant, he added, “The ultimate goal is to satisfy their hunger. It’s an art to get it right.”



location: 4171 Riverdale Road

Contact: 385-405-7470 or

O’clock: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Prices: Most entrees $12-$20


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