Film and TV

Il Porcellino Gets Food Network Boost in a Difficult Time

Guy Fieri (center) of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives drops in on Bill Miner (second from right) and his team.
Guy Fieri (center) of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives drops in on Bill Miner (second from right) and his team. Courtesy of Bill Miner/Il Porcellino Salumi
A spot on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives translates into an almost guaranteed increase in foot traffic for restaurants fortunate enough to receive a visit from the spiky-haired one himself, Guy Fieri. But Bill Miner, owner of Il Porcellino Salumi, at 4324 West 41st Avenue in the Berkeley neighborhood, realizes that maybe the timing isn't great for extra walk-in business right now.

The Triple D came to Il Porcellino last November to film an episode focusing on the deli's sandwiches packed with house-cured Italian meats, which were already favorites with Denver's pork aficionados. Miner didn't know until very recently when the episode resulting from last fall's visit would air, but it turns out that it will run for the first time at 7 p.m. this Friday, April 3. Miner and his team were sworn to secrecy (he still can't talk about which dish will be highlighted), even though Fieri left his signature stenciled tag on the inside wall of the tiny eatery — a tip-off for regulars entering the shop.

Miner notes that he's incredibly fortunate to have been chosen for the show and says he enjoyed filming with Fieri and his crew, but any additional business that the show generates will have to be takeout for now. "We're just lucky because about 80 percent of our business was to-go anyway," he explains.

Even so, with dining rooms closed over concerns about coronavirus, Miner has had to adjust business a little to meet current customer demands. "We're trying to make things available that we haven't before — family meals, more dry goods and even toilet paper," he says. "We're selling tons of charcuterie and cheese, plus potatoes and tomatoes and other things people need to cook at home."

Miner also runs a wholesale salumi production facility in Basalt that relies on restaurants for a large percentage of its sales of dry-cured sausage and other meats. Sales have dropped because restaurants are going through far less inventory than before the shutdown, but Miner says he's fortunate that he just launched at Whole Foods in the Rocky Mountain region two weeks ago. Not only are Whole Foods shoppers able to pick up Il Porcellino's whole salami, but the grocery chain is using some of his products on its pizzas and in sandwiches.

Miner notes that the wholesale production location was already a USDA-inspected facility, so conditions there were already at the peak of cleanliness; even so, he's added extra precautions, such as added surface wipe-downs. He's working hard to maintain a safe and healthy environment for employees and customers at Il Porcellino, too. Its unique setup, with a minimal number of in-house seats for dine-in guests, a deli counter already optimized for takeout business and a growing wholesale business, has Miner hoping that the company can emerge from the current crisis largely unscathed.

And a little help from Guy Fieri can't hurt.

Il Porcellino Salumi is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m daily for breakfast and lunch. Call 303-477-3206 to order ahead; visit the deli's Facebook page for up-to-date menus and specials.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation