Guy Fieri’s rise to the top of celebrity chef world was swift, and it actually began with a reality show. He won the second season of Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star in 2006 and had his show Guy’s Big Bite, the first of many, on the air within months. Before long, his bro-tastic, man’s man approach to food was all over Food Network. Love him or hate him, you knew who Guy Fieri was because he was a master of self-promotion and marketing. He had a look and a vibe, what with his bleached hair, goatee, ‘50s-style bowling shirts, tons of jewelry, and sunglasses on the back of his head. (He also liked to say his food would take you to “Flavor Town” and he put something called “Donkey Sauce” on everything.)
But he wouldn’t be anything if he couldn’t pull his weight in the kitchen. He makes tasty, spicy American fusion food, and he knows his stuff, as evidenced on shows like Guy’s Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. That actual cooking ability combined with his popularity with broad cross-sections of American people (and decidedly not with foodies, critics, other celebrity chefs, and hipsters) meant a restaurant empire was an inevitability. Among his many ridiculously named eateries: Tex Wasabi’s Rock-N-Roll Sushi-BBQ in his hometown of Santa Rosa, California, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar in Las Vegas, and most famously, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in New York. It sat right in Times Square, attracting tourists like other corporate Times Square locations (e.g. The M&Ms Store) and serving a gigantic menu of remixed Applebee’s-esque fare to Fieri fans filling three floors of tables. Yes, things were pretty good for Flavor Town. (Except for New York Times critic Peter Wells’ zero-star review of the Times Square staple, but what regular person cares about restaurant reviews?)
Or, well, not anymore. Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar will be closing down soon. As in immediately. It’s last day of business is December 30.
Reactions from Twitter are coming in, and while it’s very easy (and fun!) to make fun of Guy Fieri and his whole schtick, some people are genuinely bummed that they’ll have to find another way to visit Flavor Town.