Guy Fieri has been long reviled by local food writers and food-obsessed New Yorkers turned off by his faux-rocker-folksy hokum. Fieri’s unpopularity reached its fevered apex last year with Pete Wells’ infamous New York Times review of Guy’s American Kitchen. Wells’ review was the critical equivalent of the War of 1812’s after-the-fact Battle of New Orleans: a bloody, bloody pummeling of a place that was already dead to any and all food-loving New Yorkers.
In contrast, Fieri’s visit to Bun-Ker and Queens Comfort this week was described as a literal “life changing” event for the owners of these two restaurants we locals love. The outpouring of gratitude by the owners of both restaurants on social media was actually incredibly touching. So how do we balance our healthy no-bullshit New York point of view with our unabashed joy when one of our favorite local gems unexpectedly receives popular acclaim?
It’s not that many of us think that Guy Fieri’s opinion is what legitimizes a diner, drive-in or dive, but rather the epic reach of popular culture, the chance to reach a million eyeballs, that matters. The cost of advertising and marketing, or hiring a PR firm to do that on your behalf, is simply beyond the budgets of most of our favorite local joints.
Food writers, I will bet for the most part, got into food writing out of a desire to spread the gospel, sing the high praises, and bring much-deserved attention to our favorite places to eat. That Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives does the same thing cannot be a bad thing.
So, you know, come back to Queens anytime Guy. We’re a friendly borough. We love our local restaurants. And we sure as hell know good food.