A Kamloops restaurant known for its large portions and traditional Mexican recipes is about to get some national exposure on a Food Network TV series.
And, if the pattern holds true, Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant and Cantina co-owner Rodd Cruikshank can expect business to boom when the episode of You Gotta Eat Here airs Feb. 15.
"The restaurants that were in our first season tell us they've had huge upticks in business," said Rachel Horvath, the show's supervising producer. "They've had people driving hours, even provinces, out of their way to check them out."
"Restaurants always know when the episode has been rerun because they experience the same uptick in business again."
Any exposure the series brings is appreciated, said Cruikshank. But Fiesta Mexicana is already a popular eatery, with 20 people showing up for lunch while Cruikshank talked to The Daily News on Friday.
He said the positive word of mouth from customers is what attracted the attention of You Gotta Eat Here.
That praise turned up on websites like TripAdvisor and was spotted by series researchers. Cruikshank said someone from the production contacted him a year ago asking if he'd be interested in having his restaurant featured on the show.
"It was pretty exciting," he said, adding he and his wife, Liz, agreed on the spot.
Then came months of waiting and back and forth phone calls - not to mention a few moments of doubt about whether the shoot would actually happen. But it did, with host John Catucci and a film crew spending two days at the 793 Notre Dame Dr. location in September.
Catucci, a comedian and food enthusiast, interviewed the chef, mingled with the diners, and sampled the food, said Horvath, all done in a quest to find Canada's most delicious food.
She said Fiesta Mexicana is exactly the kind of restaurant Horvath likes to highlight on the show - one with rich, tasty food served in big portions.
Fiesta Mexicana will be featured alongside the Black Forest Inn, a Bavarian restaurant in Hamilton, Ont., and the Churchill Arms, a British pub in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
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