Searching for Guy Fieri At Guy's American Kitchen and Bar
Heavy-looking electric candle chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The upstairs bar sits beneath a bubbly sculpture designed to look like a Cadillac logo. Two TVs were tuned to ESPN while the others featured the Food Network -- the primordial ooze from whence Guy crawled. Paula Deen was on. About half the women I saw dining at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar had gray hair and warm smiles and looked just like Paula Deen.
I was sat on the upper level (the lower level, I was told, was not yet open. It is the biggest of all the floors) at a two-top. I was dining alone because I was so eager to get to Guy's American Kitchen and Bar that I refused to wait for friends who had expressed interest as well. When I arrived, the restaurant was about half-full with earlier-than-early birds: the 5 p.m. crowd.
One of the things I do know about reviewing restaurants is the importance of going with a group so you can taste many different items . After seeing the menu full of choices like "Guy-talian Nachos" and "Slamma Jamma Chicken Parm" I realized that, holy shit, I'm going to have to take down at least three courses of this by myself.
I was writing some of these menu items down in my notepad like a real food critic when my waiter came over and profusely apologized for the delay. I had been waiting for maybe two minutes. More important, my jig was up: I was spotted jotting notes. My anonymity, so treasured and protected by restaurant critics, was compromised after two minutes at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar.
The waiters at Guy's are so pleasant and staid you wonder if they even come from the same planet as the in-your-face bad-boy chef whose signature is splashed all over the menus (these mark Guy's Signature Dishes, naturally). I experienced good service throughout my dinner.
Besides waiters and busboys, the floor was populated by various "higher-up" types: men and women who milled about with raised eyebrows and stiff backs, their very posture saying, "I'm keeping an eye on everything." They were there to ensure that Guy Fieri's introduction to New York would go off without a hitch. I counted maybe nine of these higher-ups. Sadly, none of them looked like Guy Fieri.
Soon, Ivan, a "brand ambassador" (according to his card), came over and warmly welcomed me. Was he suspicious of my note-taking? I hid my notepad from him, which at that point contained the following insights:
Jimmy Fallon's Boozy Creamsicle
Plastic deer (elk?) heads on wall
Julia Child clips on b-room TVs. In ladies' rooms? (Ask?)
He told me Guy was at the restaurant for the previous 10 days but had to return to California (Kalifornia?) that morning. Guy was involved "soup to nuts" with the restaurant and was such a magnetic and astounding individual that adoring crowds formed around him wherever he went. Ivan had earned his diplomatic plates as an acting ambassador of Guy Fieri's brand.
Ivan also asked me how I heard about the restaurant. "Oh, I was just walking by," I said. He asked what I did for a living. Fearing the repercussions of any further deceit at Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, I told him I was a writer.
I could feel my own personal brand withering, and I was happy when he politely excused himself.
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