San Pedro Fish Market flirted with fame before, but nothing like this. The restaurant was featured on The Food Network’s Hungry Detective more than a decade ago. The episode aired in December. It was freezing cold and nobody came out in response.
Then the restaurant appeared on Google’s channel. Again, the results weren’t anything substantial. But this time the producers let Ungaro keep the sizzle reel. San Pedro Fish Market used the two-minute promotion to help sell its products in grocery stores. A light bulb went off.
“It looked so much like a TV show they wanted to get onboard before it became one. But it would always fail because we didn’t have anything back it up,” Ungaro says.
After another TV stint, this time on Travel Channel’s Food Paradise, Ungaro realized it was time to make their own show, stop waiting, and just run with it. Originally, it was supposed to be a how-to series. It evolved into a goofy, entertainment piece that has turned the restaurant’s characters into celebrities. Ungaro, known as Mr. Computer on the show, says it has played a massive role on the restaurant’s bottom line.
“I would say for every dollar we put into this it’s produced at least $5 in new sales for the restaurant,” he says.
That July, when the sales boom came, they had aired four episodes. FOODBEAST then reached out and asked if they could distribute the series.
“We weren’t looking to do a TV network. We wanted to maintain control. We worked it out with them,” Ungaro says. “We said we’ll give you all the content, but you need to help us produce viewers because that helps us produce sponsors. That’s really our move now, looking for help in finance and production.”