Restaurant, duck club still feeling 'the Guy effect'
By Brian Troutmanbtroutman@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- For several days after January 16 they sold duck club after duck club - probably several hundred.
They were told to be prepared. They were told it would get busy. They made sure to have extra cooks in the kitchen and extra servers on the floor, but it still wasn't enough.
It was "the Guy effect." The Tattooed Moose was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with star chef Guy Fieri.
"It was insane... One server just showed up to have a bite to eat and ended up helping out, because it was so chaotic" said The Tattooed Moose owner Jennifer Kulick. "It was shell shock afterwards."
Though it's been months since January 16, The Tattooed Moose is still feeling the Guy effect. The restaurant is selling anywhere from 30-50 duck clubs in a day and going through 15-20 boxes of duck in a week.
"We're at the point now where we could probably call a duck farm and have them just raise ducks for us," Kulick said.
Scooter Hayes of Wilmington, N.C. was in The Tattooed Moose last Friday. He and his wife were in Charleston as a part of their children's-themed hip-hop show tour of public libraries. Hayes said they were brought to the restaurant after his wife, best known, as he says, as DJ Peanut Butter Toast, found a the restaurant on the business review website Yelp.com. The review mentioned the restaurant had been featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Though the show featuring The Tattooed Moose had aired the previous weekend, the couple had never seen it.
"She was like, 'Dude, this place sounds dope,'" Hayes said. "'They got duck fat fries, this crazy duck sandwich.' We decided we had to check it out."
"Whoa! -- is how I feel," Hayes said about the duck club.
While Kulick praises the work The Tattooed Moose puts into it's number-one sandwich, she says she cannot deny the Guy effect and feels blessed that the star chef is a fan of the sandwich and the atmosphere at The Tattooed Moose.
"I think he says that he likes everybody's food. But after he got off the cameras... He said he really did like that duck club sandwich," she said. "He really was impressed by it, I think."
A little bit hunting lodge, video arcade, sandwich shop and neighborhood pub, The Tattooed Moose found its niche long before the restaurant's duck club was made famous by Food Network. Now, Kulick says the 2.5-year-old restaurant is often doing triple the business it once was and exploring the possibility of opening a second location. Kulick said, in the words of Guy Fieri, they could be looking at evolving from a neat little neighborhood place to a place where the owners can afford to put their kids through school.
"I've had people come in here and hug me, because they love their duck club so much. You know they traveled all the way from wherever in South Carolina to come here. They were just so happy to be in some place that felt like home and that felt like it was genuine, and people actually care that they came. That's really, I think, where the satisfaction is," Kulick said.
With those that come to the restaurant and laud the food and enjoy the atmosphere, Kulick admits there are those who come simply because they saw the restaurant on television. For some people, it's simply not their taste. Kulick said learning to live with that can be tough, but they're working on it.
"They wouldn't have liked the music being loud, the graffiti on the tables. They come in and they don't like it. They didn't like it from the minute they stepped in. The only reason they came is because of Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Those people have been hard to take, because they come in, and there is nothing we can do to make them happy. This wasn't their kind of place anyway," Kulick said.
If they do open a second location, Kulick says they will do it in an area that needs it and will allow the restaurant to keep its mom and pop swagger.
"We want to service a community that maybe hasn't been serviced yet," Kulick said. "...You'd really be surprised how loyal of a fan club you'd get if you move into a place where people are just dying for something decent -- not just another pizza joint opening up."
They expect to know specifics about when, where and how by the end of this year.
"We have been working with some realtors and stuff like that trying to figure it out," Kulick said.
In addition to keeping the feel of the original restaurant, Kulick said a second priority would likely be a larger kitchen.
"The amount of food that we put out of this kitchen, it barely keeps up," Kulick said. "...It's crazy, but they do it. They make it happen every day."
The episode featuring The Tattooed Moose has re-run several times since January 16. Each time, Jennifer Kulick and her husband are able to tell it has been aired because they see a spike in online t-shirt sales.
"My t-shirt guy, I'm getting to the point now where I am ordering so much that he is giving me deals and breaks, because I'm ordering so much. I sell tons of t-shirts. It's amazing, and people from all over the country want them," she said.
Kulick says the t-shirt sales are usually followed with customers from elsewhere in South Carolina, the Southeast and the nation.
The Tattooed Moose is loosely based on a college pub and deli Jennifer Kulick says she used to visit while she was in college in New Hampshire.
"It was my favorite place to go. I would go there before class, after class, during class," she says. "...One day, we went to get a beer before our noon class, and it had burned down to the ground."
She said she quit college not long after that.