For the four seasons that it was on the air, Adam Richman’s original “Man v. Food” wowed audiences everywhere with its unique blend of foodie bravado and belt-busting excess. Travelling all over America, the enthusiastic host pitted himself and his stomach against a varied line-up of edible foes - ranging from the super-sized to the stupidly spicy. It was a formula that won him fans around the world.
For the restaurants, a visit from Richman and his crew typically meant exposure to a whole new type of Travel Channel-watching, greedy clientele and opened up business opportunities like nothing else. Having their food visually devoured by millions almost always made Richman’s free food worth the expenditure. However, as with every success story, there are losers as well as winners. Not every enormous restaurateur can enjoy success. After the cameras stopped rolling, here are the restaurants that were closed down after a visit from Man v. Food.
1. Steak and Catfish Barn
Some restaurant owners try to give their eateries opaque and disingenuous titles in an attempt to throw visitors completely off the scent. Others decide to make everything as obvious as possible. The Steak and Catfish Barn in Edmond, Oklahoma definitely falls into the latter category. It sells steak. And catfish. In a barn. When Richman turned up in 2010, in an attempt to eat as many catfish fillets as possible in order to be crowned “Top Cat”, the restaurant was in its sixth year of operation. However, soon after the visit, the original site closed, to be replaced by what looks like a Subway, if you hunt on Google Earth.
2. Dixson Bar-B-Q
Average barbecue joints are a dime a dozen in the southern states, but Dixon was that rare exception - a hole-in-the-wall eatery that was a master of its craft. Featured in the 2010 Knoxville episode, the restaurant pitted Richman against the aptly named Pigburger - a combination of pork patties made from rib trimmings, fried onions and homemade hot sauces. Despite Richman’s glowing endorsement, in which he called the sandwich “an absolute winner”, and a slew of positive reviews online, the restaurant has now permanently closed its doors.
3. Knucklehead Hot Dog Diner
“Knucklehead” might not be the most polite way to refer to any customer who decides to attempt this ridiculous eating feat, but it’s certainly apt. Featured during the Sacramento episode of season three, the challenge consisted of five 10-inch hot dogs, all stuffed into a single squashed roll, before being topped with mountains of homemade chilli, cheese and pickles, plus one pound of fries on the side. Maybe it was the sight of a sweaty Adam desperately trying to shove potato into his mouth before the timer ran out, but the Knucklehead Hot Dog Diner’s permanent location closed soon after. The restaurant does, however, still operate a food truck.
Though many of Man v. Food’s regular locations were new kids on the block, using size as an easy way to make a name for themselves, there were exceptions. Obrycki’s, which had been a Baltimore institution since it first opened in 1944, was definitely one of them. Though not featured as part of a formal challenge, the restaurant’s legendary crab cakes demanded that Richman make a trip during his season two visit to Maryland. Unfortunately, despite a glowing review from the host and a dedicated fan following, Obrycki’s were forced to leave their original home a few years ago. On the plus side, they have since made a comeback in BWI Airport.
5. Ohio Deli and Restaurant
Some restaurants shut down after disastrous management, poor financial planning or just average cooking. Some, however, are plain unlucky. This is certainly the case for the much loved Ohio Deli and Restaurant. A true hidden gem, the eatery earned Richman’s respect for serving up a sandwich stuffed with 21oz. of cold-cut meat, as well a whole pound of French fries, collectively known as “The Dagwood”. Much to local foodies' disappointment, the restaurant and its sandwich were burned down in an accidental fire in 2014. Both are yet to be replaced.
6. Fran’s Hamburgers
Gentrification has played a complicated role in the restaurant industry. Many people blame the influx of wealth for uprooting long-established institutions that can simply no longer afford to keep up with payments in rent, and ultimately get replaced by bigger, wealthier brands. Talk to food fans in Austin, and they will certainly blame this for the demise of the famous Fran’s Hamburgers. When Richman visited in 2009, business was still booming for the small Texan burger joint. Unfortunately, by 2013, the owners could not afford to renew their lease and were forced to close. Bad news for everyone who enjoys a proper burger.
7. NASCAR Cafe
The home of The Heart Attack Grill and other irreverent dining hotspots, Las Vegas is a town that’s obviously familiar with the follies of human excess. That being said, the B3 burrito challenge at NASCAR Cafe must have made more than a few locals hang their heads in shame. Featuring a two-foot long, 5,000 calorie burrito, the challenge required Richman to become the third person ever to complete the task, which he unsurprisingly failed to do. However, despite the draw of one of the world’s most monstrous burritos, the restaurant would close not long after the show was taped.
8. Moose’s Sixth St. Bar & Grill
There’s something poetic about the fact that the first ever restaurant to be visited by Richman and his unstoppable appetite is, like the show that brought it international recognition, no longer with us. Moose’s Sixth St. Bar & Grill marked Richman’s first stop along route 66 in the inaugural episode, and won praise for their famous barbecue ribs. However, despite the plaudits and the publicity, Moose’s was unable to stand the test of time and has subsequently closed its doors for good.
In an industry as competitive as food, it makes sense that not every business stands a serious chance of becoming a long term success. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to look back at old episodes featuring long-gone restaurants without a twinge of sadness. When the food looks as epic as it does on Man v. Food, fear of missing out automatically becomes about a thousand times worse.