Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives: 9 Facts About Guy Fieri's Show - The Daily Meal (2024)

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Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives: 9 Facts About Guy Fieri's Show - The Daily Meal (1)

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ByJeff Litton|

Food Network viewers young and old are smitten by "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," the incredibly long-running series spotlighting the titular eateries across America. "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" completely changed host Guy Fieri, and in its own way, it's changed the landscape of TV as well. The show has inspired a rabid cult following of "Triple D" addicts who want to visit every one of the featured spots, and it's run for over 40 seasons, many of which are rerun at all hours on the network. But even the most Triple-Diehard fans of the series might not know everything about the history of the show, the way it's put together, and a few other bits of "DDD" lore.

With that in mind, here are a few of the most interesting pieces of the mythos of "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives," one of theFood Network'smost quintessential building blocks for decades. Already know all of this? Then it might be time for you to apply for a "Triple D" internship, if not a full-time paid position.

The show was created by a news producer

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"Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" has been such a perennial Food Network staple that one might assume that it just naturally came about from the channel's food-based entertainment mandate. But actually, someone had to come up with the idea, and that someone had a background not in culinary programming but in television news.

His name is David Page, and before he created the concept that would become "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," he was a network news producer attempting to branch out into other forms of TV programming. Now, he's best known for being the man who created "Triple D," particularly after a breach-of-contract suit had him sharing in some contentious headlines with host Guy Fieri. Little of his pre-Food Network producer work involved content other than network news, but he iscredited as a segment producer on a 1994 TV special entitled "I Want a Baby."

The show started as a one-off special

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Just imagine having only one episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" instead of hundreds. This harrowing idea isn't too far from how things really turned out, since the show purportedly began as a mere one-off special to gauge the potential of rising Food Network star Guy Fieri.

According to David Page, the hourlong "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" special was born in 2007 after an on-the-spot promise to a Food Network executive to deliver a one-sheet pitch over the weekend for a development meeting. "I spent the entire weekend calling restaurants all over the country. Delivered a one-sheet on Monday that was the show that eventually became the special that they purchased, never, I think, seeing it as a pilot," Page recalled to Heavy Tablein 2009. But once the special finally made it to air, an interesting thing happened: "There was no conversation about the possibility of it turning into a series," Page said. "But when it ran it did very well."

It went so well, in fact, that Page, Fieri, and company got to work on turning the special into a series, presumably without even dreaming that it would still be running over 15 years later.

David Page left the show on bad terms and sued Food Network

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Unfortunately, it hasn't always been harmony and giant cheeseburgers behind the scenes of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." If you watch the credits of more recent episodes, you might notice that producer and show creator David Page is no longer affiliated with the program, and it wasn't an amicable exit.

As reported by the Star Tribune,Page not only exited the show but sued Food Network for breach of contract. His suit alleged that the network had conspired to oust him from the show while also limiting host Guy Fieri's availability during shooting. Food Network filed a countersuit of its own, and the two parties eventually reached an undisclosed settlement in 2011 — but that didn't stop Page from dishing some "Triple D" dirt to the Star Tribune.

"The reason I lost 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives' is because of Guy Fieri," Page told the paper. "As happens to many instant celebrities, he pretty quickly decided he no longer wanted to be produced or directed. Guy worked for more than a year to try to get the network to take the show away from me and give it to another production company, where presumably he would be in control. He wanted to be the person making all the decisions, even though the decisions I had been making created a remarkably successful show and had done wonders for his career."

Fieri was nicer in his own press statement: "David Page has been very instrumental in how that whole show started. I've got to give him nothing but thanks for getting it going. David deserves a lot of respect for how it got started, what he showed me, and where we've gone. ... I think David's got big opportunities in front of him."

The show was 'developed' on the fly

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Before his exit from the series, producer David Page spoke in more positive terms about the origins of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" to Heavy Table. It all came about from meetings between Page and the Food Network on which he was attempting to produce a series.

Page had recently formed his own production company after working in other capacities on shows that aired on the Food Network, and he was eager to break out with a series of his own. But none of his pitches were accepted by the powers that be. "Basically, I continued to call an executive at the Food Network and say: 'Hey, I want to pitch you something,'" Page recalled. "She'd say OK because she was a nice lady. And I'd tell her stuff and she'd say, 'Um, no thanks.'"

It was under this pall of rejection that "Triple D" was born. "One day I'm [on] the phone with her and she's almost getting exasperated because I think she wanted to help me. And she said, 'Don't you have anything else about diners?' So I said, 'Oh yeah! There's this thing I've been developing a while called 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.'"

But Page revealed that the show had only been "developed" at that very instant: "I, in fact, had just made the name up out of thin air in response to her question," he said. Nevertheless, the executive liked the idea, and the original "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" special was born after Page delivered his one-sheet pitch around that concept.

Guy Fieri isn't actually there for all the shooting

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Guy Fieri is a busy man, with multiple TV series and restaurants under his management at the same time. While a typical episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" makes it appear that Fieri is present for all the shooting in each of the featured restaurants, filming on the show is structured so that Fieri doesn't have to be physically present the entire time.

As producer David Page explained to Heavy Table: "The guy is very busy. We're very careful — only with structure can there be creativity. So at this point, the infrastructure of producing the show is like a machine. Only with a well-coordinated research process, shooting process, and planning process can it be as painless as possible for him to get the most work done in the smallest amount of time without worrying about the mechanical details. We want Guy going in there and just being Guy, reacting with no concerns about how we're setting things up."

Basically, the process is that the "Triple D" crew will show up days in advance of the host, shoot all the necessary B-roll and pickup shots, and then Fieri will show up for half a day of shooting, during which all his material is covered. And the production is set up so that Fieri can improvise or make snap judgments that can then be reflected in additional shooting after he leaves, if necessary. It's all part of the reality TV magic that can appear a lot simpler on screen than it is behind the scenes.

Standards for inclusion on the show are high

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You might not think of the restaurants featured on a show called "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" as having to exceed too many standards of quality, but the makers of the show have always been interested in the best of the best.

In his talk with Heavy Table, producer David Page referred to these standards as "the food bar," making it clear that said bar has always been pretty high. "The rule that I am very proud of is that Guy and I both agreed from the beginning, if you'll pardon my French, there's no bulls***. If he tastes something and likes it, he likes it. If he tastes something and he doesn't like it, he doesn't like it. And by the same token, every place we go has to make real food and it has to be good enough. I say that as a positive; not good enough, just getting by. ... It's not like we want to walk into a joint that has 75 percent frozen Sysco pre-prepared product, but they make two specials a week that will knock you on your butt. That's not good enough," Page said.

That means that the majority of diners, drive-ins, and dives that get considered for inclusion on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" don't make it onto the show. Page recalled one list of some 80 spots in Houston, Texas, that was winnowed down to seven on the actual series. So, as if it wasn't already clear, inclusion on the show is definitely a badge of honor for eateries.

The show has racked up an impressive list of celebrity guest stars

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At this point, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" is a basic cable icon, and it's attracted a fair amount of surprisingly big names that you might not expect to see on Food Network. Scrolling through the series' full cast list onIMDbcan be pretty illuminating, provided you have the patience to hunt for recognizable names amid all the less famous restaurateurs and other guests credited with appearances on the show.

Rock legend Sammy Hagar (a natural fit with Guy Fieri) has appeared in four episodes and counting, while Texas stalwart Matthew McConaughey has been seen in three. Fellow Food Network star Marc Summers has made three appearances on the series, and Gene Hackman, of all people, has even appeared once. Kid Rock, Dennis Miller, Joe Theismann, Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, Adam Sandler and the rest of the stars of "Grown Ups" — the list goes on and on (and on, and on, and on).

Being featured on the show can be a double-edged sword

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While being featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" is generally a boon for any restaurant, it's not without its downsides. It can be a struggle, albeit the good kind of struggle, for eateries that were used to small trickles of curious customers to suddenly have to deal with a tidal wave of hungry "Triple D" viewers, as one unnamed owner of such a restaurant complained about to Houston Press. The owner purportedly didn't appreciate the "new clientele" attracted by the show, even if they presumably appreciated the money that each new customer brought in.

Another restaurateur, Eric Goerdt, owner of Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth, Minnesota, told Twin Cities Business that his "Triple D" shoot cost him almost $15,000 when all was said and done. That's a lot of money, but once the episode hits, it can be worth a fortune in advertising. Potential pitfalls or not, most restaurant owners would understandably jump at the chance to be highlighted by Guy Fieri's well-known enthusiasm, and that's regardless of any expense that might be incurred in the process.

Triple D devotees will travel the country to try the food seen on the show

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The most devoted viewers of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" have an almost Trekkie-like devotion to visiting the spots featured on the series. Numerous websites and apps meant to guide viewers to the restaurants have sprung up, bringing forth literal busloads of "Triple D" fans, the most fervent of which insist on ordering the same items that Guy Fieri ate on the program.

Trish Appleby, co-owner of Donatelli's in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, described the reality of post-"Triple D" life to Twin Cities Business: "It's cultish. People wait three hours in line. You feel bad for your regulars, who can't get in."

Between the show's devoted cult following and the steady flow of reruns on Food Network as well as clips on YouTube and other platforms, getting featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" is like a gold mine for restaurant owners. But it can probably also feel like a bit of the Midas touch at the same time, especially for those owners who like a little peace and quiet.

Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives: 9 Facts About Guy Fieri's Show - The Daily Meal (2024)


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