If Flavortown is the destination, Lewis County residents don’t have to board a plane.
“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” one of Food Network’s most popular shows, came to the Twin Cities this summer to record segments with three local eateries: Centralia’s Dick’s Brewing Company and Chehalis restaurants Mackinaw’s and Once Upon a Thyme.
The show, nicknamed “Triple D” by viewers, has been running since 2007 featuring hundreds of independent restaurants from across the nation. It’s hosted by Guy Fieri, an enthusiastic comfort-food-loving chef known for his collection of American hot rods and funky sayings.
He’s like if every American barbeque-loving dad was suddenly smelted down into one man.
And of those hundreds of spots visited, production teams told the Lewis County restauranteurs they were among a small percentage of women-owned businesses.
“The production crew was really impressed that we all three were women-owned,” said Julie Pendleton, owner of Dick’s Brewing Company. “So to have three of us in one go was so cool.” October is National Women’s Small Business Month, so it’s fitting that the episodes featuring the Centralia and Chehalis joints wrapped up airing this Friday, Oct. 15, with lunch spot Once Upon a Thyme.
Dick’s Brewing Company’s appearance aired Sept. 17 and Mackinaw’s showed on Oct. 1.
When selecting restaurants, Fieri told Once Upon a Thyme owner Joy Templeton showrunners research eateries in the area and narrow the list down to 14, from which Fieri selects the final three.
Templeton and Mackinaw’s owner Laurel Khan, being on camera felt natural. Pendleton had a harder time adjusting to the idea of being seen on national television, but she quickly got over that when she was around Fieri, who all three owners said was a delight to work with.
“I think the whole experience was great. … Guy was a blast. Really fun to work with,” she said. “I was a nervous wreck until that morning but once they were here you just have to let that go.”
For all the hours spent filming, only a few minutes make it on the show, and Fieri is only present for a couple of those hours.
The entire process takes a lot of energy, time and money for the businesses that have to close for the days of filming. But the exposure gained from a Triple D appearance has long-lasting effects. Templeton said the producers encouraged her to advertise as an “as seen on Food Network” business and prepare for a big boost in sales.
“He comes in, you meet him and you say a few things and then you're rolling. I mean, he was doing three in one day so it's like you come in and you get down to business,” Templeton said.
Fieri meets the business owners on camera so their initial meeting will be as genuine as possible, Khan said.
When watching her episode, she felt it was an authentic representation of her experience, which she said made her list of the top 10 most fun days of her life.
“Basically, we're just kind of highlighting ourselves, and he's interested (and) so passionate about the restaurant business, especially family-owned. So it was basically just a time for us to put ourselves on a pedestal and show what we do,” Khan said.
All three of the restauranteurs agreed the opportunity was a one-in-a-lifetime shot to show their life’s passion and hard work.
“What I do is a labor of love. I put my heart and soul into this business and it takes everything I have, and then some,” Templeton said. “But I just like to feed people good food and have them leave happy, that’s why I do it.”