Recently, the Times took a look at Valencia Luncheria, a Venezuelan restaurant in Norwalk, Connecticut, that was featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (“Triple D”) two years ago. Since the episode first aired, Valencia’s business has doubled and the owners are now, according to the story, “exploring expansion opportunities.” Good for them! And other Connecticut restaurants that have been featured on the show experience the same boom in business. But wait a second — everything isn’t money for the featured eateries.
The first problem: Fieri’s penchant for inventing over-the-top menu items while he’s at the restaurant. Such is the plight that has befallen Super Duper Weenie, a hot-dog stand in Fairfield, Connecticut. While there, Fieri whipped up the Frankenstein, which the Times story describes as “a three-hot-dog, multirelish, cheese-and-condiment monster.” (See for yourself at the 5:36 mark in this clip: It really does look gross.) Customers still come in and ask for it! The problem: It’s never been on the menu. “I talk people out of it,” Super Duper’s chef tells the Times.
The other thing: All of the restaurant’s regular customers end up getting pushed out by Fieri fans, who track down the restaurants at an unofficial Fieri fan site called Flavor Town U.S.A. “At one time, everyone who walked in here, I knew something about them,” says the owner of O’Rourke’s Diner, which was featured in December 2008. But now? “There’s days when there’s 40 people in here, 30 people in line. I don’t know anybody.” And imagine how awful it would be starting every conversation you have by talking about Guy Fieri.