Aftermath of Man v. Food

When Jeff Edwards, Edwards Drive-In operations manager of 38 years, in Indianapolis was contacted by the show “Man v. Food” to be featured, he never anticipated the power it had.

“Man v. Food” is a reality show on the Travel Channel in its second season and features Food Fanatic Adam Richman traveling all across the United States to “explore the biggest and best eats” and to take on crazy eating challenges.

The show found Edwards Drive-In, a family run and owned business, from a video posted on their Facebook page.

“We were featured but never considered to be the challenge,” Edwards said. “We wanted them to come and feature the breaded tenderloin, onion rings and frosted root beer. Those are what they focused on.”

Photo from Edwards Drive-In Facebook page

The show planned to shoot during the weekend of the Indianapolis 500.  Edwards was shocked, knowing how busy the weekend is in the city.  And on top of that, the show informed him they would also be bringing in two Indy cars.

Filming was planned for 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“Surely enough, five minutes after 11, they pulled in two race cars and for the next two hours we filmed shots of us racing up Sherman Drive, but none of it made TV,” Edwards said. “It’s interesting what’s filmed and what’s on the cutting room floors.”

When it came time for the food, most of the ideas were from the restaurant—including the featured food, which was a 9 1/2 lb. tenderloin.

“What you see on the show is his genuine reaction and he had no idea we did it.  He had no prior knowledge and it was pretty funny, actually.”

One of the things Edwards wasn’t used to was having a microphone attached to him all day that someone else could hear him on at all times.

He said once filming is over, you start to think about everything that was shot and wonder what they put in when you forgot the microphone was on.

“Once, I was inside and the film crew was outside and I said, ‘See, the real stars get the makeup,’ then after they were finished, they came in and put makeup on me and one of the guys outside was waiving.”

When Edwards reflects on the experience, he wouldn’t have done anything differently. All they wanted to do was feature those three items.

But the show did make a reference that surely made things interesting. They coined the three items as the “holy trinity” of Indiana. He said some people in Indianapolis didn’t have the sense of humor for the phrase and two days after the show’s August 18 air date, there were customers asking for the “holy trinity.” They weren’t aware of this until seeing the episode themselves.

The impact of the show made the biggest impact to the restaurant.

While Edwards Drive-In was informed and aware there would be an increase in business, they didn’t expect being pleasantly overwhelmed for the first 10 days after the show aired.

Photo from Edwards Drive-In Facebook page

“To put a percentage on it, it was over 200%,” Edwards recalled.  “Not being far-fetched at all.  We went from normally (making) 2000 tenderloins a week to 5000 tenderloins a week.  Insane increase.”

After the show, they began polling customers to find out if they were new.  The results were every three out of five customers were new within the first 14 days.

After the Labor Day weekend, business began to get back to its “new” normal.  After time has passed, Edwards Drive-In has seen a steady 20% increase. Most of the customers who make up this increase are new, which Edwards was hoping for. And these aren’t just customers from Indiana.  Edwards said people have came to visit from all across the world from Alaska and Texas to Australia and Germany.

“We used to be back (in the limelight of neighborhoods) in the 50s and 60s, but now I-465 has taken that away from us. They kind of helped revitalize the destination.”

The best thing for Edwards over this entire experience was allowing him to create jobs.

“It created five new opportunities for people and we enjoy being able to provide jobs for people,” he said.

The restaurant hopes to stay in this 20% increase from the show.

“In this down economy, if we can retain this 20%, we’re good.”

They can also expect to see spikes when their episode re-airs, in which they will be contacted before so they can prepare.

Overall, Edwards said “Man v. Food” did a good job of representing the restaurant and who they are. They did not make a mockery of what they have established and focused on the fact that Edwards Drive-In is a family run and owned business.

“It’s been pretty fun, especially to be here 53 years and finally be recognized nationally.”

To see more pictures and get other information about Edwards Drive-In, visit their Facebook page.

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