Watching food television is something of a hobby of mine. I want to watch it being cooked, being eaten and being served. A friend of mine is a fan of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. The host is a bit too gimmicky and bowling-shirted for my taste, yet I watch anyway. I’ve made a game of decoding all of his “mm-mmming” and ridiculous catchphrases to figure out how he really feels about the food he’s sampling. He can’t love everything, right?
Sometimes it seems too obvious that the dish just isn’t doing it for him. He seems to resort back to one of his stockroom compliments, exclaiming them a little too emphatically to be taken seriously. Or sometimes the food just looks unappetizing. Who’s going to be convinced by that?
After their episode has aired, some restaurant owners have experienced the “Curse of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.” Apparently being on TV gives restaurants a Hollywood glimmer that is irresistible to patrons. So much so, the flocks can be too much for the restaurant to sustain, or it even changes the character of the establishment. Many restaurants seen on shows such as DD&D are hang-out spots well-loved by locals. And when the masses are lining up along the block, it can change what was once loved about the place.
In Hadley Tomicki’s article about the impact of television appearances on restaurants, one owner stated that while their business saw an increase, “Now we’re one of those destination places that people come to from all around. So [after the show], at first some of the regulars realized that they couldn’t come to their favorite place on a Friday or Saturday anymore.”
While it seems clear that restaurant appearances result in increased business for restaurants, the residual effects can be tough to weigh. For some struggling establishments, hordes of patrons would be welcomed with open arms. For others, it could hurt what was once an intimate relationship with locals.
Thanks for the dilemma, Guy Fieri.