For those of you who noticed the numerous trucks and vans in the parking lot of Phamous Phil’s BBQ throughout last week, here’s the scoop – Phamous Phil’s is going prime time – at least for short bit. The Collegeville restaurant was selected as the featured restaurant for an episode of a new Food Network television show called ‘Restaurant Divided’.
The premise of the show is that one restaurant is taken and temporarily split into two different concepts – we’re just teasing here so as to leave the ‘meat on the bone’ for the TV show, so thank you in advance for respecting our vague phrasings – and then customers choose a winning concept which is then revealed when the show airs.
“We have been in business for three-and-a-half years,” said Phamous Phil’s Robin Schmidt, who runs the business along with husband Phil (the Phil in Phamous Phil’s), “the first two years were great and very busy and we saw lots of new faces but business has slowed down and we aren’t sure why.”
Being that Phamous Phil’s has won many awards for its food – including a Best in Philly nod from Philadelphia magazine in 2011 and a Best of the Main Line nod from Main Line Magazine in 2012 – there is obviously plenty that is right with the business, so the Schmidt’s decided that they could use an outside assessment. In her attempt to address Phamous Phil’s quandary Robin decided she would send an email to the Food Network hoping to get some advice. Well, she got what she wished for, and a lot more.
“(The Food Network) called me back at 10 a.m. the next day,” said Schmidt. “They told me that they were starting a new show and that we would make a nice fit for it.”
So it was that the Food Network crew, headed by Restaurant Divided host Rocco DiSpirito (a veteran Food Network personality, chef, restaurateur and author), essentially took over the Germantown Pike eatery, split it down the middle, and put the staff to task against one another to search out ways to breathe new life into the business.
“They shut us down for one week and sort of took over our lives,” Schmidt said with a good-natured laugh, “We were constantly (on microphones) and it was very intense. We were working 12 hour days and there was a lot of repetition (with scenes). Everyone had to put their lives on hold for the show.”
A huge part of the show was telling the Phamous Phil’s story, which is also a personal look at the lives of Phil and Robin – their pasts, how they met, and how the restaurant came to be.
The concept ‘judges’ were Phamous Phil’s customers who were picked at random from the restaurant’s email list – 60 in total. Each customer was brought in, had a taste of each side of the divided restaurant, and picked their favorite.
The results were – well, you will just have to tune in and see for yourself. The episode will be airing in the end of November on the Food Network. In the meantime, there are many things which will remain in place at Phamous Phil’s until the show – and the changes – are finalized and revealed. Until then it’s back to business as usual for Phamous Phil’s.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Schmidt said. “It will be great to see (what concept) will win and how it will let us keep giving our customers what they want.”