by Charles McGuigan
The day before Dot’s Back Inn celebrated its 29th year as a neighborhood cantina and destination diner, Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Triple D Nation) arrived with a crew of gaffers, grips, production managers and directors who set up shop in the enclosed patio outside the popular Bellevue restaurant. This was Guy’s second visit to Dot’s Back Inn.
During his first year as host of the popular Food Network program, Guy featured Dot’s Back Inn. This was back in December of 2008, less than a year after Jimmy and Daniella Tsamouras purchased Dot’s from its founder, Cookie Gianini, who worked there as a hostess for years even after she had sold it.
One of the members of the production crew, just as they were wrapping things up, told me a bit about what inspired Guy’s second visit to Dot’s earlier this month. “It’s kind of like where are they now?” he said. “What’s changed since the last time we were here? ‘You’re one of the first restaurants I visited, you’re one of my pals.’”
And across the street, Jimmy and Guy did look like pals, like old friends, both restauranteurs, having spent a good majority of their working lives in the heat of a kitchen, creating culinary masterpieces to satisfy every palate. Guy also visited Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen just across MacArthur Avenue, another restaurant owned by Daniellla and Jimmy Tsamouras.
Back in 2013, shortly before Dot’s added the enclosed patio, Jimmy mentioned that first visit from Guy Fieri and his subsequent appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “That let the world know about us,” Jimmy. “Dot’s has become more of a Richmond name rather than just a North Side name. Dot’s Back Inn is a little treasure hidden in the middle of a great neighborhood and the people here cherish it. They love to have their own little unique places that they can go to. And Dot’s Back Inn is one of those neighborhood places.”
That, along with quality, service and variety, has always remained the same.
According to the member of the production crew I spoke with, the new episode of Triple D Nation that will again feature Dot’s Back Inn could be in production for as long as six months before airtime.
It’s worth reading two recent postings on Facebook; the first made by the current owner, the other by the former owner of this Richmond mainstay.
“Happy 29th Birthday to Dot’s Back Inn. Thank you Cookie Giannini for trusting me. It’s been a hard and fun time. Thank you to all of the Dot’s patrons and employees that have made this Richmond institution!”
“Happy 29th Anniversary to Dot’s Back Inn. It had been a neighborhood beer joint before I opened September 5, 1990. Now Jimmy Tsamouras has grown it into a Diner, Dives & Drive-Ins twice-visited, National Treasure. Go by today and cheer 29 years!”
Dot’s Back Inn
Sunday, 10am–3pm; Monday-Saturday, 9am–12am
4030 MacArthur Avenue
Richmond, VA 23227