The funny thing is that the spot they selected is about a block from where I work; I've walked by it many times, both before, during, and after the filming of the show. I remember wondering for a while what was going on there, and then I heard about the show. I pondered going in during the time they were filming, but decided I didn't really want anything to do with that - the novelty would've been there, but I'd rather catch the restaurant once it's settled down and is actually worth going just on its own merits and not because it was part of a tv show.
The show, though, is really enjoyable so far. There's a certain level of tawdriness to it, of course, as with every reality show, but the nice thing is that you know that most of it really is real. There are probably some contrived conversations and scenes, but there's a lot of real stuff in there. They really did open a restaurant, they really did get it ready that quickly, and I'm willing to bet they really did have an assload and a half of problems - after all, even restaurants without cameras whirring have their share of problems.
Restaurants are in my blood, and seeing the insides of a restaurant brought to life, without having to go through the heart ache and heart break is really nice. (My grandparents owned a very successful and well-known (at the time) hotel and restaurant in Hong Kong (and speaking of my grandparents, my grandmother spent a long time studying cooking all around the world, good preparation for the restaurant business), my uncle owns a restaurant in Denver (and has owned several others in the past), my mother's going to cooking school now and thinking of possibly opening her own at some point, and of course my entire family is obsessed with food, cooking, and eating - so this is great fun for me.)
As my cousin pointed out, the show is rife with gratuitous and blatant product placements. I have to wonder how much financial trouble they were ever in, despite the drama in the show, since they had to have a lot of money coming in from their sponsors (and of course from NBC!).
Is anyone interested in having an nyc_cuisine meet there? I was thinking of doing it in a few months once all of the hoopla had died down, but if people want to do it sooner, let me know.
Update: The link wasn't working for a few seconds until I realized that NBC's page for the show Uses Caps In Its Title. Sigh. I hate mixed-case urls.