Jasper diners were experiencing a whole new twist on the meat sweats last month.
Troy Mills is relaxed now, but on April 18, the 32-year-old Jasperite was anxious. He was chomping down on a beef dip at the Jasper Brew Pub, with a video camera recording his every mouthful.
“That was the most nervous I’ve ever been taking a bite of a sandwich,” he said.
The people behind the camera were from The Food Network’s hit show You Gotta Eat Here! When the host of the program, John Catucci, joined Mills in front of the lens, Mills’ worries melted away.
“He was really cool, really down to earth,” Mills said.
Catucci, for his part, thought Jasperites were pretty cool, too.
“People here are so chill, there’s nothing pretentious,” he said. “There’s a good vibe.”
That vibe was part of what helped Food Network producers select the Brew Pub and the Downstream Lounge to be featured in the last episode of the show’s fourth season. Those two establishments stuck out to network researchers for their unique atmosphere and creative food, according to series director Jim Morrison.
“We focus on local restaurants doing something special, places with character,” he said.
During the shoot at the Jasper Brew Pub, regular patrons of the restaurant were filmed enjoying executive corporate chef Geoff Miller’s bison curry, seared beet root and quinoa burger and roasted chicken nachos.
“The nachos are crazy,” Morrison said. “The portions are good…they’re taking pub food to the next level.”
At one point, the cameras followed Brew Pub general manager Justin Melnyk as he set down Mayor Richard Ireland’s order.
“This [production] has to mean good things for Jasper,” the mayor said later.
“It’s great for the individual restaurants which are featured but it’s also great for the town overall. We must have two dozen really good restaurants that people don’t know as well as the locals. This will help spread the word.”
That’s an understatement, Morrison said. Once the episode airs (likely this summer), there will be a noticeable spike in demand from curious viewers.
“This show has a big impact on business,” he said. “It’s one of the top shows on the network.”
Brew Pub co-owner Alex Derksen can attest to the power of television. When the restaurant opened in 2005, the Fine Living Network’s show, Opening Soon, featured all of the vicissitudes of that venture. Derksen said they still get diners coming in who saw the episode.
“It’s a huge boost,” he said. “It can be hard to measure, but it definitely has an impact.”
It’s certainly a feather in the cap for the Brew Pub and the Downstream. Writer and Story Producer Sarah Nixey said the staff and owners can be proud they were selected from a long list of restaurants.
“We comb through restaurant reviews, news stories, guidebooks, social media, and tons of viewer tips to find truly great spots,” she said. “If you’d drive an hour to eat a dish, if you’d drag your friends and family there, that’s a spot that’s right for You Gotta Eat Here!”