The following first appeared at my Potable Curmudgeon blog on May 10, 2016. As Insider Louisville reminds us, the breathless opening is nigh: “On Saturday, Sept. 10, Louisvillians will find out if Guy Fieri is more than a television personality.”
Does anyone have a bucket?
|Not if Cordish can help it.|
Otherwise sensible people lost their minds earlier today when celebrity chef Guy Fieri announced the opening of a “Smokehouse” eatery within the friendly, taxpayer-subsidized confines of Louisville’s Fourth Street Live.
That he did so during an event entitled Hometown Tourist Attraction Showcase tells us that irony resistance is at an all-time high.
Needless to say, independent eateries and watering holes enjoy no such coddled treatment, and if you look at Fieri’s web site, and this list of his brands, you’ll see that when it comes to opening new restaurants, he minimizes risk at every opportunity.
GUY FIERI’S AMERICAN KITCHEN + BAR: CANCUN
Cancun International Airport, Mexico
EL BURRO BORRACHO
Harrah’s Casino, Laughlin NV
GUY FIERI’S BALTIMORE KITCHEN & BAR
Horseshoe Casino, Baltimore MD
GUY FIERI’S MT POCONO KITCHEN
Mount Airy Casino, Mt. Pocono PA
GUY FIERI’S CHOPHOUSE
Bally’s Atlantic City Casino, NJ
GUY FIERI’S VEGAS KITCHEN & BAR
The Linq Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas NV
GUY’S BURGER JOINT
Carnival Cruise Lines and Live Nation venues:
Sleep Train Amphitheater – Chula Vista, CA
Shoreline Amphitheater – Mountain View, CA
Xfinity Theater – Hartford, CT
Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA
MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater – Tampa, FL
Perfect Vodka Amphitheater – West Palm Beach, FL
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – Tinley Park, IL
Klipsch Music Center, Noblesvile, IN
Hollywood Casino Amphitheater – St. Louis, MO
BB&T Pavillion – Camden, NJ
Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre – Long Island, NY
Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, OH
First Niagara Pavilion – Pittsburgh, PA
Gexa Energy Pavilion – Dallas, TX
Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater – Virginia Beach, VA
White River Amphitheater – Auburn, WA
Can you say CAPTIVE AUDIENCES?
Of course, the Curmudgeon isn’t saying any of this makes Fieri a bad businessman. However, in the case of Fourth Street Live, government subsidies to Cordish — which generally favors chains and routinely dismisses the indie ethos — always have been disturbing, and in Louisville’s case, with an indie food and drink community second to none, watching the soulless local media fawning today over an interloper whose business model is as corporate as fix-is-in ever gets, speaks volumes about integrity … and its absence.
You’ll notice I left one of Fieri’s restaurants off the above list.
It’s Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in New York City, the only one of his branded establishments not attached to a casino, airport, cruise ship, performance venue or Cordish corporate welfare emporium.
It had a rocky start. Surely you remember the New York Times review of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in 2012.
As Not Seen on TV: Restaurant Review: Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square, by Pete Wells (New York Times)
GUY FIERI, have you eaten at your new restaurant in Times Square? Have you pulled up one of the 500 seats at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar and ordered a meal? Did you eat the food? Did it live up to your expectations?
Did panic grip your soul as you stared into the whirling hypno wheel of the menu, where adjectives and nouns spin in a crazy vortex? When you saw the burger described as “Guy’s Pat LaFrieda custom blend, all-natural Creekstone Farm Black Angus beef patty, LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion + pickle), SMC (super-melty-cheese) and a slathering of Donkey Sauce on garlic-buttered brioche,” did your mind touch the void for a minute?
Did you notice that the menu was an unreliable predictor of what actually came to the table? Were the “bourbon butter crunch chips” missing from your Almond Joy cocktail, too? Was your deep-fried “boulder” of ice cream the size of a standard scoop?
What exactly about a small salad with four or five miniature croutons makes Guy’s Famous Big Bite Caesar (a) big (b) famous or (c) Guy’s, in any meaningful sense?
Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are?
I’m rolling on the floor laughing out loud. No, I mean literally.
But forget all that. Can we expect to see good beer at Guy Fieri’s Cordish Smokehouse in Louisville? Maybe, though probably not.
Here’s the list at Fieri’s Vegas location.
Not awful, though evincing no intelligent design. When’s the last time you saw a restaurant beer list, chain or indie, that looked genuinely thoughtful? They exist, but can be hard to find.
More humorously, Fieri’s much maligned NYC tourist route location promises “an extensive draft beer program featuring signature beers craft brewed for Fieri right in New York City.”
Nice, except it would appear this novel twist owes to the fact that Heartland Brewery’s CEO is a partner in the Times Square venture, and that’s odd, because Heartland Brewery isn’t mentioned anywhere on the drinks page.
Did A-B InBev tithe more?
“Guy’s Beer” NYC selections include Independence Pale Ale, Golden State Lager, Red, White & Blonde, Morgan’s Red Ale and Oatmeal Stout. Also available on the “extensive” tap list: A lone seasonal beer, Angry Orchard Cider and Coors Light.
But don’t forget the bottle list: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Rolling Rock, Good Grain Gluten-Free (Heartland) and Beck’s Non Alcoholic.
Extensive? You be the judge.
Yes, you bet your ass I’m being derisive. Bring on the tour buses. Guy’s bringing corporate fluff straight to River City — and never forget that Cordish is billing Greg Fischer for the privilege.