COVINGTON, Ky. -- It has been a whopper of a year for Bard's Burgers and Chili owner Jordan Stephenson.
Stephenson reopened Bard's on Oct. 12, 2015, two years after it closed in the Latonia area of Covington. Since then, he has built a dedicated customer base that recently attracted the attention of the Food Network.
"BIG NEWS!" Stephenson announced on the Bard's Facebook page on Oct. 10, two days before celebrating the first anniversary of the restaurant's reopening. "The Food Network will be coming to Latonia, KY this month to visit us! Yes Bard's Burgers & Chili, the dive that's worth the drive, will be on the first season of Ginormous Food with Josh Denny!"
Bard's Burgers and Chili will host camera crews from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch and again at 5 p.m. Monday, and they want their restaurant packed.
Stephenson said the cable network contacted him after coming across the Bard's Facebook page, which currently has close to 10,000 likes.
"That's more than many well-established local restaurants," he said.
Stephenson is the third owner to operate under the Bard's name. The eatery, which initially opened as Bard's Burgers in 2008, gained a reputation for high-quality hamburgers and simple menu. The restaurant was sold a couple of years later but remained under the Bard's name. The second owners closed the eatery in 2013. A string of short-lived restaurants under different names then operated in the space at 3620 Decoursey Ave.
Stephenson said he wanted to build on the original Bard's reputation when he reopened, as well as put his own stamp on the place.
"We added the word 'chili,'" he said. "We added some stuff and structured it how I wanted."
Stephenson also created the "New Bardzilla Challenge," where brave guests try to eat a 4.6-pound burger and four pounds of fries within an hour. The reward for eating everything is free hamburgers at Bard's for life.
Fifty-six people have tried the challenge so far; no one has completed it.
"That's in that one year," Stephenson said. "We are looking at about one challenger a week. We did have one guy come within one bite of finishing."
Bard's will serve the "Triple Cincinnasti Burger" when the Food Network comes to tape its episode of "Ginormous Food" in the restaurant on Oct. 24. The burger's 11 patties are made with goetta and are covered in Cincinnati-style chili, Stephenson said.
The Food Network announced series host Josh Denny will also be filming someone trying to eat the “No Frickin’ Way” deal -- eight pounds of chili, cheese and other goodies -- at Blue Ash Chili on Oct. 25.
Stephenson doesn't yet know when the Bard's episode of "Ginormous Food" will air, but he hopes the restaurant's appearance on the show will drive even more growth.
"It's perfect because we really are in transition," he said. "We worked really hard to keep it going. Now it looks like we are going to be absolutely slammed."