"Diners, Drive-ins" to feature Springfield diner

Kathryn Rem

Food Network, meet the 16-inch pancake.

Spiky-haired Guy Fieri, host of the network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” series, will be at Charlie Parker’s diner Tuesday to tape a segment for the program.

He’ll focus on Charlie’s Famous Giant Pancake — it’s bigger than a vinyl record — and the breakfast shoe, a cardiologist’s nightmare of a sandwich made with an egg, toast, meat (ham, bacon or sausage), cheese sauce or sausage gravy, and hash browns or American fries.

“When the Food Network called, I thought it was a joke,” said Brenda Stanley, who owns the diner at 700 North St. with her husband, Kim.

“We have a really good time here, and I play pranks on my friends. I didn’t know it was for real until I looked at the Caller ID and it said ‘Food Network.’ Then I thought, ‘This is for real.’”

The Stanleys, who also own Kim’s Auto Body, said they received a call some time ago from Food Network staffer Kat Higgins, who asked for photos of the diner and a menu.

“I sent the information and then we found out it was between us and another place,” said Brenda Stanley. “On Friday, Kat called to tell us they’d be coming. She said they liked the way the business looked and that they’d focus on the giant pancakes, breakfast shoe and maybe some other items.”

Charlie Parker’s is set in a distinctive silver Quonset hut with a red front door. Inside, a red neon tube-light circles the walls, which are covered with music and gas station memorabilia from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. A metallic wall backs the fountain area, which sports black-and-chrome stools at the counter. The floor is tiled in black and white checks.

Los Angeles-based “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” producer Kevin Lezak said a crew of four or five will descend on the restaurant Monday to do research and set up. Fieri will arrive on Tuesday for the taping.

Although the diner opens at 6 a.m., Lezak doesn’t expect the star to arrive before sunrise.

“I don’t think he’d want to be there at 6 o’clock. I don’t know if I could get Guy there that early. I would imagine the time would be around 8 o’clock.”

The segment — there are four on each 30-minute program — will run five to eight minutes. He did not know when the Springfield visit would air.

Fieri — known for his bleached-blond spiked hair, goatee, tattoos and skateboarder shorts — went from California caterer to network big shot after winning the reality series “The Next Food Network Star” in April 2006. The father of two was rewarded with two shows, “Guy’s Big Bite” and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” in which he visits classic American eateries. It airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Insight cable channel 48.

The Stanleys, who bought Charlie Parker’s in 2001, are encouraging the public to show up for the taping.

“How they found us is a mystery,” said Kim Stanley, “but I think it’s pretty cool.”

Kathryn Rem can be reached at 788-1520 or kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.