Hungry Investors is Worth Every Penny

Jon Taffer and Tiffany Derry observe a potential client's restaurant operation.
Hungry Inverstors (Photo: Spike)

Spike’s new series Hungry Investors takes the best parts of save our business shows in an effort to improve the general public’s dining experience at two restaurants each week.

Show

Hungry Investors, Sundays at 10pm on Spike.

Premise

Two restaurants in a metropolitan area (so far both in Texas) compete for investor capital provided by three television culinary personalities. Which participant is willing to make the changes necessary to save their business and secure funding?

Pedigree

The three investors are: Jon Taffer, host of Spike’s Bar Rescue; Tiffany Derry, Top Chef alum from the D.C. and All-Stars season; and John Besh, The Next Iron Chef runner-up and Top Chef Masters participant.

Who is Hungry Investors For?

Foodie folks who enjoy Shark TankKitchen Nightmares, or Tabatha Takes Over will probably enjoy this show.

What Works

So much of Hungry Investors works that I’m surprised it has taken this long for a hybrid of the investor/save my business format.1 The businesses featured aren’t in complete dire straits, but seem to be owned and operated by people set in their ways. Since Taffer, Derry and Besh are approaching the businesses as investors instead of benevolent fairy godmothers, the critiques are delivered directly instead of with tough love. In other words, there’s no room for negotiation and therefore no emotional manipulation. The suggestions are based on business decisions, all with the goal of “small changes for big improvements.”

The format of the show also maintains a straightforward approach. The investors meet with each business owner and do an investigation of the premises, checking for these factors: market potential, physical space potential, food production potential, food quality, and the owners. After each venue gets evaluated, a plan is devised for short term solutions and an “investor test” service is performed. The clients then do one more pitch before the investors decide whom they will move forward with their investment.

What Doesn’t Work

Taffer provokes more than the other two investors, but the drama does not come across as overly manufactured. However, there’s a lot of yelling from Taffer, the clients, and the restaurant staffs. The final pitch segment also comes across as stagy, particularly since we don’t get a full sense of where the nickels and dimes are going. I’m a numbers nerd, so that last ding probably doesn’t apply to everyone.

Verdict

You should absolutely watch Hungry Investors. You get learn some of the business circumstances that lead to poor management decisions and what ways a restaurant can improve that may be coming to an eatery near you. I had not encountered a wine flight at a restaurant, and now I hope that trend catches on. The hourlong episode has very little filler, and the compare/contrast aspect to the competition provides a lot of information in a short amount of time.

  1. I suppose NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant sort of falls into this genre, but that was an elimination-based competition which failed completely.  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv