Daily news: Gordy’s Hi-Hat on ‘Diners, Drive-Thru and Dives’

By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune

Gordy’s Hi-Hat accentuated the drive-in vibe for Monday night’s premiere of the Cloquet seasonal restaurant’s segment on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

A 20-by-11 1/2 -foot screen was erected in the parking lot for the viewing party. Friends and fans sat on the blacktop, blankets and lawn chairs. Some leaned against cars. A line for free root beer floats — these were full-sized; no skimping — ran from a table outside of the Warming House next door all the way to Gordy’s wooden porch.

Owner Dan Lundquist was in a white apron, working until about a half-hour before the 9 p.m. start of the Food Network program starring Guy Fieri, a bleached-blond spiky-haired rock ‘n’ roll-ish food aficionado who tours the country checking out unique dining experiences.

Lundquist had seen a script, but had no idea how the 50-year-old establishment his parents started on Sunnyside Drive would translate to a national audience.

“It’s not about the restaurant; it’s about us,” Lundquist said, indicating the community, the customers, the couples who met at Gordy’s and the families who make it part of an annual trip to northern Minnesota.

At the show’s first mention of Minnesota in preview clips at the beginning, there were hoots from the 300-plus members of the audience.

Marilyn Lundquist, the restaurant’s grill cook who founded the shop with Gordy Lundquist in 1960, starred in the bit that featured a behind-the-scenes look at double cheeseburgers, onion rings and homemade chili.

“Look at all that juice,” Fieri said, holding his burger up to the camera.

Fieri pattied burgers with Gordy Lundquist. He chopped onions for the rings, his eyes visibly stinging.

“I’m just sad because I don’t have a Gordy’s next to my house,” he said.

He poked fun at Marilyn Lundquist for her pronunciation of the word ketchup.

“What?” he asked.

“Catsup,” she said.

“I think that means ketchup,” he said.

Marilyn Lundquist held her own with the host, and had him help her make chili. He called it “sweet” and “nostalgic.” As the show aired, she walked quickly through the crowd barely looking at the screen.

Gordy’s Hi-Hat had its own Guy Fieri look-alike on hand. Derrick Harmon, who has a similar build as the sunglasses-wearing Food Network star, had his hair bleached a lighter shade of blond. This included a strip on his chin to match Fieri’s two-toned goatee. He wore a striped short sleeve button up, but didn’t spring for the tattoos.

Harmon works at Gordy’s and his co-workers noticed the resemblance during taping.

He caused a few heads to turn.

“Everybody wants a picture,” Harmon said.

Dan Lundquist watched the show with his family, and then thanked the audience for attending. The place cleared out before the third segment of the show aired. Who knows where Fieri went next this week.

“It was fantastic,” Lundquist said.

The episode at Gordy’s was filmed in May, and the crew hit a couple other hot spots in the area, too:

At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe, Duluth Grill and Northern Waters Smokehouse.

The Northern Waters episode featured its famous smoked bison — which literally made the host drool — and aired on June 21.

Originally appeared in the July 27, 2010 edition of the Duluth News Tribune.