Guy Fieri and his Donkey Sauce call it quits in New York

The 500-seat Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar may have been the most mocked restaurant in the US during its five-year existence.
The 500-seat Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar may have been the most mocked restaurant in the US during its five-year existence.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • Guy's American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square will close after the nearby ball drop on Dec 31 (Singapore time Jan 1), which means that starting this year, professional critics and the Yelp army alike will have to find a new target to skewer.

Food Network star and restaurateur Guy Fieri said in a statement: "I'm proud that for over 5 1/2 years, Guy's American in New York City served millions of happy guests from all over the world. And upon the restaurant's closing, I'd like to say thank you to all of the team members and guests who made it all happen."

He did not say why he was closing the 500-seat restaurant, which features what he calls "American comfort food gone wild".

But during its brief existence, Guy's American (its motto: "Welcome to Flavour Town!") may have been the most mocked restaurant in the country.

Shortly after it debuted on Sept 10, 2012, a Yelp critic tore into it: "Food was poorly made, service was bad and the atmosphere was like a frat party at the lamest frat you've ever seen."

Later that same month, Anthony Bourdain, the former chef and cultural critic who serves as Fieri's unofficial nemesis, went on the Opie & Anthony radio show and called Guy's American a "terror-dome".

But the real takedown - which went viral - was the November 2012 review from Mr Pete Wells, restaurant critic for The New York Times.

The zero-star review was fashioned as a series of criticisms posed as questions to Fieri. The questions ranged from the comical ("And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?") to the cutting ("When you cruise around the country for your show Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives, rasping out slangy odes to the unfancy places where Americans like to get down and greasy, do you really mean it? Or is it all an act?").

Still, Guy's American appeared on the Top 100 Independents list for the past four years, raking in more than US$16 million (S$21 million) annually, according to estimates by the Restaurant Business site.

Last year, Fieri sold his shares in the small California chain that grew out of the first restaurant he created. Now, his empire is mostly devoted to restaurants inside casinos, on cruise lines or in smaller markets.

Mr Wells does not think his five-year-old review had anything to do with the closure of Guy's American.

"I think it's foolish to posit some kind of cause-and-effect between a bad review and a restaurant closing," he said.

"It's likely that the restaurant closed for the same reason the review was bad - because the restaurant was terrible or the restaurant wasn't working, and the review was just reflecting that. A bad restaurant is not going to stay in business very long."

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2018, with the headline 'Guy Fieri and his Donkey Sauce call it quits in New York'. Print Edition | Subscribe