By Bill Jenks
On the evening of October 9, 2012, Guy Fieri’s signature shining-red late-1960s Camaro convertible pulled alongside the curb of the New York Times building in the heart of Manhattan’s buzzing Times Square district. Fans of his string of Food Network hits including “Guy’s Big Bite” and “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” knew something big was up. The normal throngs of theatergoers, foodies and bewildered tourists that cram the entertainment-on-steroids West Forties found themselves working their way around the long line of hip revelers piling in to experience the grand opening of Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar at 240 West 44th Street.
“I have seven restaurants that are all doing great in California,” said Guy. “This is my first in New York.”
It was worth the wait. Inside, energy pulsed throughout the three floors of bars, food and music. The bottom floor is a cavernous space that hosted the evening’s live entertainment, a five-song 1980s-infused set from the show “Rock of Ages,” belted out by the Broadway cast.
Making our way up the spacious staircase brought us in front of a large picture window that provided a bird’s eye view of the spectacular and bustling demonstration kitchen.
“It’s 37 steps from the bottom to the top of this space, with 500 seats to serve,” explained Guy. “So I said ‘I’m going to put a mezzanine kitchen right in the middle of the whole damn thing’ – and that’s exactly what I did!”
The grand opening goodies introduced the East Coasters to Guy’s gigantic Malibu Oysters, served on a halfshell and overflowing with peppers, spinach, onions and creamy Havarti cheese. Other standouts included the small salmon filets glazed with jalapeno and apricot and served on a warmed palm-sized cedar plank; and the Steak Diane filet mignon, bite-sized medallions served on a bed of roasted shallots and cremini mushrooms with a brandy pan sauce.
The top floor is done up in music bar motif. It is divided into several rooms, each with walls covered with guitars, pop-culture photos and other sports and music memorabilia. The friendly tenders of the enormous 360-degree bar were serving drinks in all directions as fast as they could make them. And along one brick wall couples cuddled in three romantically lit booths that were accented by pictures of, you guessed it, red Camaros.
“I’ve lived my life by the motto ‘Go Big or Go Home,’” said Guy. “Great food and good times, that’s what this place is all about.” Sidewalk onlookers can get a good look at what he means via the huge Times Square-worthy video screen that streams the action live from inside the restaurant.
Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar
220 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Photos courtesy Bill Jenks.