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Aug 15, 2010 05:38 PM

Celeb or TV personality/mass media ruining a local gem or more?

There's a Hong Kong TV media personality (Suzy Wong, So See Wong, or Ah So to the locals) type person who is known for being immensely obnoxious (that has become her own trademark), yet based on her age and experience, she really knows what she is talking about.

Most recently while looking for her clips on youtube, there's a piece of recent news where she recently hosted a four episode run of her food program, featuring her favorite eats in Macau. While this was done in earnest, the spots she highly recommended ended up being over run by Hong Kong tourists and alike, to the point where even locals could not get a seat (and these are either restaurants or street food stalls). The best dried fried beef chow fun stall? A 30 to 40 minute wait. The x2 or x3 increase in business meant higher turnover and lower quality. The beef chow fun chef hurt his wrist from wok stir frying so much, that he had to close his stall for 2 weeks, much to the uproar of his loyal local customers.

As a result, there is some facebook group of Anti-Suzy, basically people hating this exposure and what it did to their favorite local joints.

I'm sure this is not just affecting Hong Kong/Macau. And I'm sure Anthony Bourdain's coverage of some places through his popular program probably caused a rush of customers to similar types of places as well.

What have been your experiences with professional media coverage that ultimately ruined and/or lowered the quality of your favorite place? And what was the type of food at stake?

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  1. I have heard of, but not experienced, a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives affect, similar to what you are mentioning. fans of a restaurant write in, the place gets featured on the show, and suddenly the lines are out the door.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jujuthomas

      That's kind of happened to the Falafel's Drive In San Jose, Calif and The Mad Greek in Baker, Calif, but they seem to handle it ok. I think the extra business and attention makes them better.

    2. There was a slight DDD concerning one of my favorite diners in NJ. Mustache Bills down Long Beach Island (Barnegat Light). It was absolutely insanely busy for awhile after the show aired. It eventually died down, now it is back to normal, merely packed. :)

      1. Like the Oprah-effect for restaurants (as opposed to books)?

        In Los Angeles, I suppose Jonathan Gold (of the LA Weekly) might come close to this, but certainly not to the point of "ruining" a place.

        I don't think shows like Man v. Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have any sort of long-lasting real effect on the popularity of a restaurant. Short-term spike maybe, but nothing long-term.

        For example, Guy Fieri has visited (among others) Oinskster, Polka, Baby Blues BBQ and Nickel Diner -- all in Los Angeles -- and I can't say that any of them have become some sort of touristy destination mobbed by masses of people overflowing from the lines at Disneyland and Universal Studios ...

        2 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          Remember that the FN reruns these shows frequently, so each time it runs, a new surge happens.

          In the SF Bay Area there have been a couple of places featured on DDD, notably Gorilla BBQ and the Tee Off bar. The effect is noticeable in both of these places.

          Both of these places are small and limited in what they can produce and serve in any one lunch or dinner service. The DDD fans who go out of their way to visit them are often disappointed and write bad reviews because it wasn't the fabulous experience that was portrayed on TV.

          1. re: pamf

            The ones I've cited in LA, I tend to go on a regular (or semi-regular) basis and have not noticed an appreciable uptick.

        2. I've read on here that Carlo's bakery of Cake Boss fame is not what is wat and has lines out the door and around the block since the show began.

          1. I'd be curious about the business owner's opinion on this. The chow fun guy may have developed carpel tunnel, but I bet the added income from all his extra business helped ease the pain.
            We all like having our hidden gems, but if a place is good enough, word will always get out, whether it's by TV, newspaper, or the internet. Just means you have to find a new gem.