Filming dining scenes for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Colossal Cafe in South Minneapolis.

Behind the Scenes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on set at Colossal Cafe in Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

That spikey bleached hair, that sunburnt face, and those signature sunglasses perched on the back of his head — oh yeah, Food Network star Guy Fieri is in town.

The Heavy Table went behind the scenes with the crew of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on their last visit to Minnesota. The Minnesota tour included northern spots At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe, Duluth Grill, Gordy’s Hi-Hat, and Northern Waters Smokehaus. Twin Cities locations included The Blue Door Pub, Colossal Cafe, and Kramarczuk’s. Our behind-the-scenes look took place at the last two locations.

On set of Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives in Minnesota.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Earlier this year, The Heavy Table interviewed David Page, the show’s executive producer. Page described the filming process, which includes two full crews advance filming at each location for 2-3 days. Once Fieri arrives, the crew and Fieri spend a half day filming at each location (filming at two locations per day) to capture the cooking, interviewing, tasting, and diner scenes. These intense filming days with Fieri are exhausting — ingredients must be prepped and ready ahead of time and scripts are followed precisely to match the order of the previously recorded cooking sequences.

Filming for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Despite this, there is no doubt that the crews have a lot of fun. From the moment Fieri stepped on location at Kramarczuk’s it was as if someone declared, “Let the games begin!” Fieri immediately began recalling stories from the previous evening’s revelry at Nye’s Polonaise. Nye’s stories were told throughout the day and Fieri would frequently break into a certain favorite polka song from the band.

Kramarczuk's sausages on the set of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Fieri downed a mysterious green drink that he later informed me was a juiced concoction of fruits and vegetables that one of the crew members makes each day (to provide essential vitamins and nutrients to counteract the day’s menu of diner food). Then, it was time to film.

Production Crew for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives outside Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Crew #1 outside Kramarczuk’s (left to right): Jeff Asell (Audio Engineer), Matt Giovinetti (Director of Photography), Guy Fieri (Host), Liz Pollock (Producer), Neil Martin (Production Assistant), Kerry Johnson (Production Assistant)

On set of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The show’s tight-knit team is essential to the success of filming. Says Fieri: “The crew is vital. To me, nothing is as important as… if I don’t have the crew there, then it doesn’t work. It’s tough for me when we bring in substitute people in there. It makes me uncomfortable. I’m not saying uncomfortable like it won’t work, but these are my friends. In a lot of ways I’m doing this to entertain them. Everybody carries their role and, for me, to have a crew there that I know…. otherwise it’s shoot — stop — okay, shoot again. There’s no way you can keep that kind of energy going. There’s no way that it can evolve if you don’t have inspiration to do it.”

Filming a diner scene at Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis on set of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The time spent taping the show could most quickly be summarized as “entertaining.” From practical jokes to funny voices and even some flying sausage (that managed to hit the camera man), the day is high energy, despite the task at hand. We ask Fieri about the practical jokes played on set.

On set of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

“Oh, the jokes are… you have no clue. So the one that they’ve been getting me with… they’ve owned me on it. I always go into a restaurant and I typically go through all the refrigeration units there and walk through dry storage. I can sense a lot of what’s going on and get a lot of insights of what’s happening. Sometimes they hurry me up, cause maybe I’ve come in late and we need to hurry. We come to this place and we’re late and we come in and get right into cooking. This guy’s making mozzarella. So we’re making mozzarella and he says, ‘Hey, Guy, can you get some cream for me out of the fridge?’ And we’re right on camera and I’m like I’m like, ‘Why the hell would this guy want cream? Fine.’ So I reach back to the fridge and I open it up and there’s one of the line cooks, a little guy about this tall and he says, ‘Here you go!’ And it freaks me out! So they love to play this little surprise thing on me.”

On set of Diners, Drive-In and Dives at Kramarczuk's in NE Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

“We have a variety of little games we play on each other,” he continues. “‘Hide the Meat’ is another one, where we take a piece of meat and hide it in someone’s gear bag. People have things ditched in their bag that they don’t know. So we’re in Miami and one my buddies, Cletus, is traveling with me. So I stashed some pig tails (we were at this Jamaican joint) in a couple bags and they caught on. So I ask Cletus to get my bag and put it in the car and make sure the door is locked because I don’t want them getting close to the pig tail. So Cletus and I have about another week of traveling between food shows. And we’re in line to get on the plane and I look at Cletus and say, ‘Cletus! Are you all right?’ He says, ‘Yeah, why? Dude, I don’t know I’ve been smelling it too.’ And I’m like, ‘I think they got you with the pig tails.’ He says, ‘No way, dude, I checked my luggage.’ They had gone into his bag, back in the back of the bag where there’s zipper and opened it and put into the bag six pig tails. There are all kinds of stories.”

After a morning of shooting at Kramarczuk’s we head to Colossal Cafe in South Minneapolis to meet up with the second production crew. And the fun continues…

Production Crew of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives outside Colossal Cafe in Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Crew #2 outside Colossal Cafe (left to right): Anthony Rodriguez (Director of Photography), Mike Morris (Producer), Guy Fieri (Host), Mark Farrell (Production Assistant), David Canada (Audio Engineer)

Filming at Colossal Cafe in Minneapolis for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

It seems impossible to enjoy the food as much as Fieri does, bite after bite after bite, but he assures us that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is the real deal. “It starts with the foundation of research and because of the research team, I don’t walk into any surprises. About 99.9 percent of them are on point. I mean, there’s a surprise of every once in a while.”

Colossal Cafe production crew filming Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

After a morning of eating cabbage rolls and other Kramarczuk’s favorites, it’s a wonder that Fieri has any room for what’s in store at Colossal Cafe. A dual play on words, this tiny cafe serves up huge portions like the pancakes with apples and brie and the meatloaf sandwich. Keeping up the energy by joking along with the owner and the crew, Fieri dives in for another couple hours of filming before he heads to Duluth that night.

Filming dining scenes for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at Colossal Cafe in South Minneapolis.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episodes containing Northern Waters Smokehaus and Gordy’s Hi-Hat have aired and can be referenced here; view Gordy’s here and Northern Waters here. Air dates for other Minnesota locations, including Colossal Cafe and Kramarczuk’s, are to be announced. You can find more information about this at the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives site.


  1. artsy

    Aha! I see Guy’s secret to why he isn’t much much larger, the awesome GREEN SMOOTHIE every morning………fresh greens with some fruit to take the bitter edge off….super nutritious and makes you lose weight magically!

  2. David Foureyes

    Yes…but it turns your hair white and makes you forget where you put your sunglasses apparently.

  3. Kathy

    My question is, did the show hit touristy spots or did they hit places with actual, good food?

  4. Katie

    Kathy – They hit some great spots on this MN go around. The list of these restaurants is in the beginning of the article. These photos are from Kramarczuk’s and Colossal Cafe. Besides this visit to MN, they’ve also been a few other times and have been to favorites like Modern Cafe, The Nook, Donatelli’s, Psycho Suzie’s, Bryant Lake Bowl…among other places. The full list of spots they’ve hit is on the DDD site.

  5. george

    The show doesn’t do touristy sites. It goes to places with real people, trying to make a living doing what they love to do. Good article!

  6. geoff

    but the rub is that once featured on the Food Network your fave little independent hard working restaurant will be invaded by tourists (many of whom live in your town). don’t let the aw-shucks everyman bleached blonde no-cal dude facade fool you, george…Guy Fieri is the enemy. don’t take my word for it, though…just ask the nook about their % of Minneapolis guests vs. % of neighborhood guests pre-and-post Guy.

  7. Kathy

    See, this is what I’m talking about: it’s a double-edged sword. I experienced this for myself lately: my boyfriend and I (I lived in Madison for almost four years, so that’s how I found out about Heavy Table) live in St. Louis, and we finally went to Crown Candy Kitchen last week. This little diner has been in operation by the same family for almost 100 years, and in the last decade, it’s been featured on a few different TV shows. Well, I have no idea what it was like before the TV exposure, but these days, if you don’t arrive when they open or in the afternoon dead time, you’re going to wait a while (the place seats about 30) for your 12-strips-of-bacon BLT. (Yes, I ate most of one, plus a Crown sundae. Both were delicious.)

    We look forward to return visits, for sure, and we love that that TV exposure has helped a neighborhood and city institution to continue. But there’s a little part of me that wonders if the staff gets annoyed with the constant, identical comments of tourists — most of whom probably don’t return.

  8. Elsa

    Personally I’m happy for small restaurants that get increased business as a result of the publicity. I’ve been a fan of the Nook for a long time, have been there both before and after they were on the show. You always had to wait for a table at peak hours, so even though it’s more crowded, it doesn’t make that big of a difference. The place, the staff, and the food are all the same. I know we all want to have our secret little place, but I’d rather see local people who work hard making money.

  9. jane

    Went to h.s. with Bess and she’s great. Having a packed resto (tourists or locals) is a great thing. I know she’s selling (sold?) the place, right? Our loss, but I guess the new owner promised to try to be the same.

  10. Michelle

    I really don’t understand why people are complaining that these restaurants have an increase in customers after some publicity. They do a good job, they deserve to be acknowledged for it.. and if it wasn’t for the show chances are you wouldn’t know to go check it out in the first place! Rather then complaining that you have to wait in a line to eat at these places we should be happy that the small businesses are doing well, and if we don’t like it perhaps we can go eat at Boston Pizza

  11. Gary

    I am wondering if there is a list of places they will be filming at in the future?? I would love to catch an episode filming. Anyone out there know when Guy will be back in New England area??

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