by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
It was 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and the normal sizzle of the grill during breakfast at Jacksonville’s Metro Diner was replaced by the clunk and shuffle of making room to film a television show.
Guy Fieri, host of The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” television show, and a film crew were the only people besides staff allowed in the building during normal breakfast hours.
“Sorry, no cheese grits today. We’re filming today,” said Mark Davoli to a customer looking for a hot breakfast. “We’ll have them tomorrow, though.”
For one of the few times in the diner’s history, it was easy to find a seat Wednesday, but, ironically, it’s the restaurant’s popularity that caused it to be empty.
“(The Food Network) told us that people had sent them e-mails recommending that ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ should stop here,” said John Davoli Jr. “We’re just glad people think enough about our food to recommend us that way.”
Meto Diner features items like “Yo Hala on the Square,” a thick slice of Challah bread stuffed with bananas that have been sautéed in Frangelica and blended with cream cheese. It is prepared like French toast and topped with blueberry and strawberry compote, Crab Cake Benedict and Cinnamon Raisin Pecan French Toast, it’s easy to see how Metro Diner has become such a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.
The diner was one of many stops for the show which included Singleton’s Seafood Shack in Mayport, Sun Dog Diner in Neptune Beach and 13 Gypsies on Stockton Street.
One myth was debunked Wednesday. Fieri’s trademark 1967 Camaro was brought to town on a trailer, but the move was a necessity of the famous chef’s business. He was in Los Angeles a few days prior and the drive from the West Coast would have been a little taxing on the driver and the automobile.