Food Network Didn’t Win the ‘Food Court Wars’

Erika Lipe and Stevo McCain from Po’ Boy Station

Food Court Wars, hosted by Tyler Florence, is another competition show from Food Network. The show is nothing more than several self-contained episodes that are all condensed versions of the The Great Food Truck Race‘s final season, when teams with no prior experience running a food truck were given one. Instead of having eight teams compete for a full season, Food Court Wars has two teams compete for one episode with the winner receiving a food court restaurant free from rent for a year.

Each episode of Food Court Wars features two teams of two people. Each team has a passion for their specialty dish, such as the hot tamales and po’ boys from the first episode. The teams compete in two challenge. As usual with these types of shows, Food Network gives the winner of the first challenge an advantage in the second challenge. It really doesn’t matter who wins the first challenge because the second challenge has the two teams selling their product to the masses and the winner is whoever makes the most money.

If the Suck the Shuck vs. Po’ Boy Station episode is any indication, the show will feature many sob stories. Mary and Thomas Jordan are a couple who have been making hot tamales for over 45 years. They tried to break into the restaurant business, but were unsuccessful, so now they sell Suck the Shuck tomales out of the gas station convenience store rent-free because  Mary cleans its bathrooms. Erika Lipe and Stevo McCain from Po’ Boy Station may be a lot younger than Mary and Thomas, but Erika lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and had to move back home to Mississippi.

The first challenge had Suck the Shuck and Po’ Boy Station give out samples to mall goers. Po’ Boy Station lost because their bread was too crispy. As a result, Suck the Shuck received free airtime on a popular local radio station to help them advertise. Before their radio time, Tyler told Mary and Thomas to change their name to Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales, since very few people know what “suck the shuck” has to do with tamales. After the radio, Mary and Thomas catered an event for 20 Meridian, Mississippi VIPs, which everyone admitted wasn’t the best use of their time. In an attempt to make up for lost time, Mary and Thomas put flyers on cars in the mall parking lot. Erika and Stevo from Po’ Boy Station served their Po’ Boys at a concert.

Throughout the episode, Tyler kept telling Erika and Stevo that their po’ boys were good and improving, but not good enough. It seems as though Tyler was searching for bad news to give to Po’ Boy Station. If Erika and Stevo’s recipe was only okay, how did they make it on the show? While they were good at marketing, Erika and Stevo operated on instinct and not some kind of fantastic training.

When it came time to manage a food court restaurant, Mary and Thomas were clearly inexperienced. They committed the biggest mistake a restaurant owner can make: running out of your signature food. Po’ Boy Station got their food out slower than Mary Jo’s Hot Tamales, but they were making po’ boys to order, so it was understandable. In the end, Food Court Wars was very close. Po’ Boy Station won by only 29 dollars.

Despite winning, Erika and Stevo decided not to open Po Boy Station for now.

Erika posted the following on Facebook:

OMG y’all have killed me with support an kind words on facebook. Absolutely UNBELIEVABLE. My friends and fam and hometown are the best!!! So now that I can talk about it, Stevo and I declined the winnings based on our decision NOT to move to Meridian for a food court restaurant, and also upon the fact that we would like to open one closer to home, and that Mary and Thomas would be much better suited for that environment. We are very happy with our decision, and kinda hate that we got cut out of so much of the show, but ya know what? We won that thang. Freaking killed it. You didn’t even see the half of it.

If you like Food Court Wars, check out Tirado’s Empanadas & More vs. The Taco Spot.

About Allison Lips

I am the Toastmasters District 83 Public Relations manager and President of Freehold Phrasers.

Posted on July 8, 2013, in Cable, Food Network, Reality TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Marilyn Therrell

    You won by $29.00! Get over yourself we know there’s more to the story!

  2. I wonder how Mary Jo’s Tamales is doing today. Did the episode say which mall the business was in?

  3. lovebeautynglam

    There for SURE has to be more to the story than just what she commented on her FB page. If you go and read the comments on her FB wall she has people telling her how unselfish she is and that she made Mary & Thomas’ (from formerly Suck the Shuck) dreams come true. As if she declined the offer specifically so that they could have the food court space and as if she had the ability to say that they would get the space and the free rental if Po Boy Station was not going to accept it. HA!

    Seems like her facebook fans/friends are delusional and she has posted nothing to stop them from thinking this way. I think it’s great that Food Network gave Mary Jo’s Tamales the opportunity to take Po Boy Station’s prize but there is no way this was Erika’s doing. In fact I’m sure Food Network would have been all over that kind of “unselfishness” and wanted to film it.

    If you’re not going to tell the public the truth as to why you’re not taking the free rent for this space, your so called “dream”, then just don’t say anything. You obviously knew where the space was going to be located at before you went on the show so nope, I don’t believe that excuse. Next time you say it’s a private matter that’s made you unable to accept it at this time. Lying about it just makes me personally think even less about you and your business.

    P.S. I know I’m a little late to the party but I just discovered this show.

  4. 100,000.00 rent free and up could’ve trippled that really????? In a year seems to me that was crazy pass up …. How many opportunities come up like that in a life time isn’t that the reason you came out there. Really just for a year you could’ve made back the money terminated your contract and open up your resturant anywhere eles after that. Seem like your heart was in it , what happen you endured the storm katrina just to win a new start and then back away . Because it was in meridian ms. What’s really going on.

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