For three Modesto eateries, the “Triple D Effect” is real and it’s spectacular.
Almost a year after appearing on the hit Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” each of the restaurants has seen business boom and all have plans for expansion. Show host and celebrity chef Guy Fieri spent a day in Modesto in January 2016 filming at Food Fix Truck, Bauer’s 66 1/2 Skillet & Grill and Commonwealth Gastropub. The spots were then featured on episodes of the popular food travel series, nicknamed “Triple D” by its fans, in April and May of last year.
Earlier this year the Food Network began running ads touting the “Triple D Effect” of being on the program which sends Fieri on road trips across the country, and even the world, while highlighting local eateries.
“The Triple D Effect is a real thing, yes it is,” said Bauer’s owner and chef Tye Bauer. “I can’t say enough about what it’s done for our family and everything that it has done at Bauer’s.”
All three places reported a skyrocketing of initial interest directly after their appearances were announced and Fieri stopped by to film. Food Fix Truck owner and chef Hank Olson said business was up some 500 percent at first, with people flocking to the out-of-the-way spot at the Warden’s Outlet Center parking lot on North Ninth Street.
While crowds have tapered since the first big rush, they remain higher than before their appearances and new people come in all the time — from across the state, country and even Europe and beyond — saying they saw them on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Commonwealth manager Amanda Martin, who has been with the downtown Modesto restaurant since it opened more than three years ago, said she can always tell when a repeat of their episode airs.
“When the reruns come on we have people come in afterward every single time,” Martin said. “It for sure brings business in, you can’t argue that point.”
Customers have also noticed the change. Commonwealth regulars Rosa Espinoza of Modesto and her boyfriend Robert Garza of Sacramento said they’d been coming to the restaurant well before the show made it onto Triple D. They said it had a robust business before, but afterward the effect was apparent.
“We were like, ‘Oh, dang, it’s even more packed now,’” Espinoza said. “There’s always been a crowd, but it got even harder to get a table. But it’s great. We watched the show and it’s nice to see Modesto like that.”
Since the shows aired, both the owners of Commonwealth and Bauer’s are preparing to open new restaurants in town. While they had plans to expand before, they credit the show with expediting and supporting those endeavors. Bauer will open his new Bauhaus lounge on April 4, at the corner of Downey Avenue and Scenic Drive. The intimate global tapas spot will serve self-cured and smoked meats, small plates and pizza. He said without the exposure from Triple D, and his resulting appearance as a contestant on “Guy’s Grocery Games: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Tournament 2” last year, he would not have been able to hire more staff and take the time to work on the new place.
“I wouldn’t have been able to open at all if I hadn’t been on the show. It gave us the income to push forward on it, definitely. And it gave me the time because I was able to hire people here and take some time off,” Bauer said. “It slingshotted us into that arena.”
Similarly, Commonwealth owners Jeff Brown and Blake Humble are in the process of opening up Churchkey, a new pizza, wings, burgers and brew spot on 12th Street in the old Aqua Shi restaurant and club locale. The restaurant will have more than double the capacity of Commonwealth, with seating for over 100. It is expected to open by summer and the Commonwealth staff has posted pictures teasing its progress on its Facebook page.
Food Fix owner Olson has also been able to expand thanks to the show. He has added Saturday hours for the truck, which is open for lunch, and extended his menu. His goal is to open a brick-and-mortal restaurant, which he said he is still working toward. Meanwhile his catering business has also taken off, as have his followers on social media. He said show producers had warned him about the “Triple D Effect” when they came to shoot so he was ready with added staff. For weeks after Fieri came to town they sold out of food daily.
“We couldn’t put enough food on the truck,” Olson said. “People when they come are always talking about the food. They’re really excited to try the food, and that’s great. They’re really excited to try it and that the show came to little old Modesto.”