How excited is Sara Reilly that her restaurant, Darbys Cafe, will be featured on Mondays episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?
I keep telling people that if you own a greasy spoon, this is like the Oscars, she said. This is as good as it gets. Ive made it to the pinnacle.
Sara and her husband, Nate Reilly, own the downtown Olympia eatery. Its long beloved locally for its colorful murals and sassy signs as well as diner food that people regularly wait in line for on a cold, rainy sidewalk. Now it will be getting national recognition as will Fish Brewing Co.s Fish Tale Brew Pub, which will be featured in an episode set to air Feb. 11.
The Reillys decided to celebrate their TV debut with a premiere party at the Capitol Theater; proceeds will benefit Thurston County Food Bank.
We thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Sara Reilly said, and we wanted to make the most of it. We thought it would be great to share the experience with our friends and family and customers at the same time. And we thought it was a good excuse to raise money for the food bank.
Besides, the Reillys dont have cable TV. (They are big fans of the show, though, and watch it online and when visiting family.)
Thats another excuse to watch it on the big screen, Sara Reilly said, laughing. Otherwise, we wouldnt know where to watch it. Nobody in Olympia has cable.
Shes eagerly awaiting her first look at Mondays episode, called Hometown Haunts.
Its a total surprise, she said. They dont let you see it first. They promise you theyll make you look good. I really have a lot of faith in the production crew.
Darbys got its big break when Diners host Guy Fieri was asked to be the celebrity chef at the Saint Martins University Gala in October 2012. Since Fieri would be in the area, anyway, it made sense for the show to film in a couple of restaurants here.
In July, the Reillys got an email from a staffer at the show saying that the restaurant was being considered. Thus began a two-month process of doing interviews and submitting recipes and photos.
Reilly is not certain how Darbys came to the attention of the Diners staff. Ive been told probably 100 times by customers that theyve gone on the website and written emails recommending that the show come here, she said.
The filming happened Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, and they were long days. Crews shot everyday activity at the restaurant, and then filmed Fieri visiting to cook alongside Darbys chef.
On the program, Fieri will cook Oysters Creole, Blueberry Crunch Roller (a sort of rolled-up pie served with ice cream) and Winter Squash and Apple Hash, a seasonal special.
We are adding that to the menu this week so it will be ready for all the food tourists when they come, Reilly said in a Monday phone interview. We do our own fennel-sage sausage for it and a cranberry-ginger chutney. Its beautiful. It really pops.
The program offers enough information for a good cook to replicate the dishes at home, she said, and recipes for the hash and the Creole sauce already are online.
But the Crunch Roller, which features the cafes maple-bourbon granola, remains a mystery. We decided not to offer the recipe for the granola because thats something we might sell in the future, she said.
Appearing on camera was a little scary especially when the spiky-haired Fieri arrived to film the cooking segments.
I think we were all a little nervous, she said. We kept reminding each other that Guy Fieri was just a guy who was a cook until he won The Next Food Network Star. Hes just a regular guy.
Fieris name recognition leaped last month when a negative New York Times review of his new Times Square restaurant generated a superstorm of interest among members of the media and New Yorkers, who flocked to the place to see whether it lived down the critics bashing.
In the review, Times dining editor Pete Wells questioned Fieri about whether there was anything behind his TV persona. Is that why the kind of cooking you celebrate on television is treated with so little respect at Guys American Kitchen & Bar? Wells wrote of the new restaurant.
But whatever the reviews of the food at American Kitchen & Bar, eateries on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have a lot of fans. The firestorm around the review means more visibility for the show and Fieri.