The owner of the real-life sandwich shop that inspired the hit show The Bear has said their sales have nearly tripled since the show first aired.
Christopher Zucchero runs the Mr. Beef shop in Chicago, the primary source of inspiration for the show that has now had two critically acclaimed series on the FX network.
Zucchero’s childhood friend, Christopher Storer, created the show, and Zucchero now admits that his initially dismissive attitude about the possibility of it ever being a success was misplaced.
Speaking to CBS, Zucchero said: “I did say condescendingly to him: ‘Oh, I bet it’ll be a big hit.’ I did say that.”
Despite his scepticism, Zucchero says the shop has gone from serving roughly 300 sandwiches per day to over 800 since the show first aired in 2022.
Season two of The Bear premiered in June to critical acclaim, and saw lead characters Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) and their team work to reopen their restaurant, now renamed from The Beef to The Bear.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the show had been renewed for a third season at FX, although no dates for filming have yet been made public.
“We’ve been very blessed here because of that show,” Zucchero continued. “Now, I’m eating my words.”
Mr. Beef was opened by Zucchero’s father Joseph in 1979, and much of the show has been filmed on the premises, with Zucchero himself appearing in one scene opposite White.
Season two scored a four-star review from Rhian Daly, who wrote for NME: “In season two, there is still panic on Carmy’s face, albeit a different kind. We follow him, Sydney and the staff as they immerse themselves in a brand new world – one where there’s constant construction chaos and intense conversations (under)estimating the financial load of gutting The Beef and transforming it into The Bear. If the first season was about survival – and not just for the restaurant, but for Carmy as he grappled with his brother’s suicide, and for the kitchen crew as he and Sydney came in “fucking with [their] system” – then this season is about rising from the ashes.”
The debut season of The Bear made NME‘s list of the top TV shows of 2022, with Alex Flood writing: “Just when you thought you’d got a grip on tense kitchen drama The Bear, it morphed into a completely different dish.
“Starting out as a workplace show stuffed with Succession-style backstabbing, it eventually ended up a wholesome family comedy, stopping off at surrealist psychological portrait along the way.”