Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen closed eternally when it shut its doors on New Year’s Eve, after a decent run of feeding New York vacationers and being a target for its snobbishly detached. I had been there, on its own very last night, for its first and last time.
America, what will you do without Flavortown? A heavy fried tumbleweed glides across an abandoned grill. A coyote howls in the distance; somehow, you know it’s frosted tips.
I purchased a ticket to Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen New Year’s Eve Party since my boss told me once I had joked–a little over a year ago–about spending New Year’s Eve at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen. Could not it be amusing to spend New Year’s Eve at the least desirable location in New York?
When news broke that the restaurant would be shuttering and it became a real mission, it was less funny. My editor urged me to have “a pal” connect me. Everybody I had been close to issued a fair rejection.
“It’s in Times Square. On New Years Eve. And it’s at the worst restaurant in the world.”
I understood the perimeter of Times Square was undesirable, though I hadn’t attempted it. New Year’s Eve this year was especially awful. The wind chill was around 0. Everybody seemed okay with this.
I have not lived in New York City for long enough to be considered a real New Yorker (I have lived here almost six years; the rule is 10), but I understood Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar was something that we actual and aspirant real New Yorkers did not enjoy. New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells pioneered this; net denizens solidified this. I understood that, despite my own middle-class midst America upbringing, I would despise it, since I had been a deliberate nyc resident, deliberately separated from the place that amuses me, deliberately different than the location I was from. I was aware that I had been assigned to write about it since it was a spectacle.
I purchased a single ticket into a seated table at the New Year’s Eve party.
There was something fitting about about the gratitude I felt when I finally gained entry into Guy’s, after standing outside in the cold for almost an hour. I was thankful for it, for the very long line for the buffet comprising sticky penne and grainy tomato sauce, such as the “free hors d'oeuvres” which were actually plates of cheese squares. I was thankful for the wonderful family from California with whom I had been put. I was sad when they left around 11 and I had to let the aggressively sexy Swiss girls with general admissions tickets sit on the vacated seats.
A small group of bros had been convening on the Swiss girls, and I felt bad about telling them that they could not sit at the table that was suddenly mine. So, shortly after the family left, they had been a part of my instant Guy Fieri entire world. They had been here, they explained, since they believed the previous night at Guy Fieri’s restaurant would be hilarious.
All of it felt bleak at there. The bartenders had run out of Jack Daniels, but who cares? They weren’t really attentive to beverage orders, but who cares? Who will yell at them? There is no tomorrow. While I was speaking to Guy’s employees, the bros abandoned, handily avoiding a goodbye.
Guy’s American Kitchen employees cleaned up from memory. There was nothing sentimental about the last routine.
As I watched them I believed about the cottage industry their company had spawned. The extended blue-collar restaurant or retail experience as a hillbilly safari. This was the swan song for a punching bag. In 2012, when Pete Wells wrote his inspection of the place, he could not possibly have known he’d inspire a mean-spirited subgenre of soft Gonzo classism.
The strangest thing about the final of Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen was how regular it all seemed. The way the staff, laid off with little note, looked after stack the seats atop the tables at close, like somebody was coming the next morning to undo the sequence. As when the wait at the frigid cold was worth it and would be well worth it again.
I left alone, into a world bereft of Guy’s American Kitchen Bar, wondering what dumb garbage 2018 will bring. I’m freezing cold and I can’t wait.