When Guy Fieri visited his upcoming restaurant on Tremont Street Friday, a horde of Emerson College students waited outside — screaming. “I don’t know how they knew I was there,” he said in an interview hours later.
It’s a testament to the buzz the spiky-haired, sunglasses-bedecked personality is known for creating. And it’s the kind of energy, Fieri added, that he hopes to bring to Beantown with the opening of Guy Fieri’s Boston Kitchen + Bar.
“Boston is a big little city with a mix of eclectic people,” he said. “People here love food, and they love their family … It’s a fantastic beer town. Fantastic energy. This restaurant, right near the Common, is going to add to the party.”
The all-American joint could open as early as Nov. 15, said Fieri, the reality TV phenom behind Food Network shows like “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and “Guy’s Grocery Games.” Its menu is unfinished but New England-inspired. Think lobster rolls, hot grinder sandwiches, and clam chowder that “your spoon won’t stand up in,” Fieri said. Plenty of Flavortown classics — trash can nachos, pig poppers, and “rockstar pastrami” — will be available, too.
Fieri is even toying with a 420 happy hour, where at 4:20 p.m. every day, diners get 60 seconds to order from a specialty menu. It could be a fun “college thing” to do, he said, playing off 420′s connection to cannabis culture.
The Kitchen + Bar restaurant will mark Fieri’s second venture in Boston, the first being Tequila Cocina, a restaurant and event venue near TD Garden that opened in late 2019. (A fast-casual concept named Chicken Guy!, serving tenders and 22 sauces, is also in the works.)
Its arrival is a more personal project than usual for Fieri. His wife, Lori, is from Rhode Island, and the chef has traveled through Logan Airport at least a dozen times. Last week, he found his own way from Chinatown to downtown without having to use Google Maps. “I do not have this kind of relationship with every city I go to,” Fieri said.
During the interview, he rattled off plenty of local food favorites: Empire, Mike’s City Diner, and Gourmet Dumpling House. His number one pick? Rino’s Place, a family-owned Italian comfort food spot in East Boston.
“We went there last night,” said Fieri, “and ordered 10 to 12 plates.”
Dressed in a Santo Tequila T-shirt and gold hoop earrings, Fieri told the Globe that the Kitchen + Bar will harbor the same casual vibe as its sister restaurants in Las Vegas and Burbank, Calif., and at Foxwoods Resort Casino, and more.
“I’m not a fancy cook. I’m not a fine dining chef. And don’t get me wrong, I love high-end restaurants,” Fieri said. But those chefs? “They play a different genre of music than me. They’re refined classical. I’m punk rock [or] Southern rock.”
That doesn’t mean Fieri lacks attention to detail. On Friday, he spent over an hour in the Tequila Cocina kitchen, measuring what he calls “the critical success factor” of the staff and its food. Fieri chatted up the chefs and watched them assemble cheeseburger tacos, pork belly, and coconut aguachile.
“It’s almost like taking a test in school. You have done all the hard work. You’ve prepared yourself,” he said. “And now, I’m here to judge. Now is the score, the end result.”
(If you’re curious, Tequila Cocina passed with flying colors. Fieri called their trash can nachos “the benchmark” the other outlets should aspire to.)
He also remains vehemently against substitutions. “You can want it your way, but you’re getting it Guy’s Way,” Fieri said. “This is something of how I was raised. My dad said if you don’t want it, you can take it off. You don’t order the Metallica album and say, you know, I just don’t want Lars [Ulrich, the drummer and cofounder of the band].”
The renowned chef departed Boston Saturday with a full stomach and a little something extra.
“I’m walking away with a little bit of the Boston accent,” Fieri said.