NY restaurants feel the love after Guy pays a visit
- Last Updated: 12:30 AM, May 22, 2012
- Posted: 10:59 PM, May 20, 2012
Boardwalk stands pray for sun, $5 umbrella vendors pray for rain and the three NYC restaurateurs who’ve been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” pray for reruns.
While the Food Network’s seal of approval usually produces a steady, permanent jump in business for restaurants across the country, nothing in ultra-competitive, on-to-the next thing New York City comes easy.
“I’ve started to nickname it the roller coaster,” observes Jeremiah Clancy, owner of Mama’s Food Shop in the East Village. Clancy sees a dramatic spike in business when his segment re-airs, followed by about three weeks of increased business. Things return to normal for loyal customers and shoot back up again when a new repeat occurs about two months later.
When a woman from Washington, DC, announced that she had driven all the way to Junction Boulevard in Queens just for “ropa vieja” (shredded flank steak), Rudy Acosta, co-owner of the Cuban standby Rincon Criollo didn’t have to check the TV listings to know that it was Guy’s work all over again.
Acosta and Meg Grace, chef/owner of the Redhead experience the same roller coaster effect as Clancy. While all three restaurants had a loyal clientele before being featured on the show, the increased business has become especially important in the sluggish economy.
“The energy in the room changes dramatically every time our segment on Guy’s show airs,” says Grace, who has built her usual hipster clientele on word of mouth and a stack of positive foodie press.
All three owners observe that Fieri has more influence on tourists and people from the Tri-State area than on New Yorkers. As a result, the Fieri Factor usually kicks in on the weekend, when people can venture to the East Village for Mama’s and Redhead.
Fans overwhelmingly want what Fieri had — shrimp and grits, soft pretzels, fried chicken, ropa vieja, and arroz con pollo. They’re somewhat disappointed when Mama’s doesn’t have the peach cobbler. (Clancy insists on fresh peaches in season.) Fieri’s show doesn’t exactly prepare them for “counter service only”— or the fact that it isn’t always able to accommodate big groups.
New Yorkers who wonder why out-of-towners like to pose for cellphone pictures outside of Duane Reade are equally perplexed by the Fieri fans who just can’t wait for a photo op in front of the “Guy Was Here” backdrop that at the show stencils in every restaurant featured on “Triple D.”
Waiting for its own close-up on on June 18 is Gazala’s Place, the acclaimed Hell’s Kitchen Druze/Middle Eastern little engine that could. Gazala’s segment was taped last fall but has yet to air.
There’s every chance that Gazala’s segment might have a greater impact on daily sales given its convenient Midtown location.
On the other hand, Gazala’s might face lethal competition for Fieri fans from a place that’s scheduled to open blocks away on 44th Street and even closer to Times Square. Fieri is opening Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar later this year.