Last month, Dan Michaels, owner of Gino’s East of Chicago in Los Angeles, watched as orders for Italian beef — Chicago’s classic sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and tangy giardiniera stacked on a bun — suddenly skyrocketed to 300 per day, from 150 a day in June.
“The Bear” had struck again.
The anxiety-provoking, cross-talking FX series about a struggling Chicago beef sandwich shop and its beleaguered kitchen brigade has drawn praise from the media and restaurant veterans, prompting a host of ” Yes, chef!” memes gushed about the lead actor, Jeremy Allen White, and energized a collective lust for sweaty line cooks.
The show has also spurred instant demand for the deliciously sloppy Italian steak sandwiches at the center of plot chaos. Google search interest, according to Google Trends, nearly doubled after the show launched on Hulu on June 23, and Chicago-style restaurants across the country are feeling the effects in person.
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Mike Klaersch, the owner of Pizza Man, a family-owned Chicago joint outside Kansas City, Kansas, noticed customers flocking for sandwiches. The restaurant, he said, sold five to six times as much as it did in June.
Jarrett Kerr, owner of Dog Day Afternoon, a Chicago-based Italian steak and hot dog restaurant in Brooklyn, said he had seen an increase of at least 50% in orders for hot Italian steak sandwiches — at $15, the most expensive item on the menu—ever since the show debuted. The crowded store used to sell up to a dozen a day; the staff now throws out 30 or more a day and sells every day.
“It’s been a godsend,” Kerr said. “Now every day we say, well, thanks to ‘The Bear,’ thanks to ‘The Bear.'”
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The store’s name was verified last month on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” when Meyers and White, who plays Carmy on the series, took a bite of their Italian steak sandwich. (A “Late Night” intern snagged the last two sandwiches before the store sold out for the day, Kerr said.)
Goldbelly, an e-commerce company that offers specialties like lobster rolls and gumbo from restaurants across the country, has seen a 30% increase in sales of Italian beef sandwiches since the premiere of “The Bear,” a spokeswoman said. of the company. (That number could soon increase with the recent addition of Chicago staple Al’s Beef to the site.)
According to Chicagoans, a true Italian steak is based on a consistent and harmonious formula of roast beef and hot giardiniera, all on top of, importantly, a Turano Baking Co French muffin. Roasted peppers, for a touch of sweetness , are optional. The sandwich is then “dipped, dipped or baptized” in beef juicing depending on your preference, said Henry Tibensky, a Chicago native and founder and chef of Hank’s Juicy Beef, a traveling Chicago hot dog and sandwich pop-up at the New York City. .
Amjad Haj, owner of two Al’s Beef locations in Chicago, hasn’t seen an uptick in business, but his customers are talking about the show.
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“One thing I’ve heard a couple of times though is that they don’t think the accent is right,” Haj said. (Staff members at three other Chicago-area restaurants we contacted hadn’t heard of “The Bear” at all.)
Not even the recent heat wave that hit much of the country could curb demand. Orders for Italian steak sandwiches have doubled in the past two weeks at Emmett’s, a Chicago cuisine restaurant in Manhattan, owner Emmett Burke said.
At Mr. Beef On Orleans in Chicago, where exterior scenes for “The Bear” were filmed, business is booming. Joseph Zucchero, an owner who opened the store in 1979, said he went from selling 250 to 300 Italian meats a day before “Bear” to 800 a day in early July.
“The week after it aired, all of a sudden, we ran out of bread,” Zucchero said. Some days he keeps the store open three or four hours past closing time to accommodate the line of customers.
As for the show?
“I haven’t seen it yet,” he said as a phone began to ring in the background. “I’m too busy. I’m waiting for all the fuss to die down.”
This article originally appeared on The New York Times.