How The Bear Influenced A Chicago Beef Boom

If you've ever worked in restaurants, "The Bear" was likely an extremely stressful show for you to watch, even if you couldn't stop binging it because you also felt heard and understood. As Eater pointed out, "The Bear" stood out as one of the few portrayals of a run-down mom and pop restaurant on screen, rather than the Michelin star restaurant of "Burnt," for example. If you haven't watched the show yet, it follows the harsh reality of restaurant life where Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White) tries to turn around his family restaurant that his late brother left to him. Carmy struggles when he tries to incorporate his fine dining background into a restaurant that runs on a vague "system."

One tradition that the main character doesn't dare to mess with, however, is the recipe for the restaurant's signature dish, Italian beef. According to The New York Times, the traditional Italian beef sandwich consists of thinly sliced roast beef, hot giardiniera (mixed pickled vegetables), and optional roasted sweet peppers nestled in a "Turano Baking Company French roll." Then, the sandwich is either "dipped, dunked, or baptized," in beef jus. Watching Carmy methodically make the sandwiches was absolutely mesmerizing on "The Bear," so it's no surprise that there was a huge spike in demand for this messy sandwich following the premiere.

Chicago beef restaurants are doubling and tripling sales of the iconic sandwich

As The New York Times notes, search interest for Italian beef doubled on Google shortly after the premiere of "The Bear" on Hulu on June 23. It turns out people weren't searching just for fun, they were searching with the intent of getting an Italian beef sandwich in their hands ASAP, and the restaurants saw that reflected in their sales. It's not just in Chicago, either, restaurants across the country that sell the Chicago staple are reaping the rewards of the popular Hulu show.

The owner of a Chicago beef shop in Brooklyn told The New York Times that sales of hot Italian beef sandwiches have doubled, saying, "It's been a godsend," and adding, "now every day we say, well, thank you to 'The Bear,' thank you to 'The Bear.'" According to The Takeout, a fast-casual Italian beef restaurant, Buona, is partnering with Goldbelly to ship Italian beef kits across the country, since the regional dish is not accessible everywhere. In summary, it's clear that "The Bear" made viewers hungry for Italian beef, and thirsty for hot chefs like the one played by Jeremy Allen White.