When Television Comes Calling, it Comes to the Mission

En Español.

Brandon Arnovick created Mission Minis at 3168 22nd Street soon after watching Paula Deen make a red velvet mini cupcake on the Food Network.

That was less than a year ago. Tonight, Arnovick is on the Food Network. He’ll be one of four contestants in an episode of the reality show “Cupcake Wars,” which airs tonight at 9 p.m.

It is, says Arnovick, the equivalent of  “a guitarist…hanging out with Jimmy Page and David Bowie.”

In the last two years, television shows have featured several dozen Mission restaurants, with dramatic results. After the Escobedo brothers beat Bobby Flay in a televised burrito throwdown, sales of the winning Triple Threat Burrito went from four or five a day to at least 100 a day.

Alicia Cruz, the owner of the torta shop at That’s It Market on Mission Street, was barely getting by. Then last year Anthony Bourdain visited her shop for an episode of his show “No Reservations.”

The day after the show first aired, there was a line that snaked across the block. Cruz served 120 Cubanas — what Bourdain ordered — a two-and-half-pound torta that includes white cheese, scrambled eggs with chorizo, milanesa (breaded steak) and hot dogs.

Cruz said things have settled down a bit since then, but she still gets customers from all over the world, and is recognized on the street. “Anthony Bourdain saved my business,” she says.

When Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” went to eat the famous Mission-style burrito at La Cumbre, sales doubled. They were surprised to discover that they’re now a destination restaurant.

La Cumbre still has the Travel Channel's promotional material.

Torta Cubana

Gilberto Hernandez, an employee at La Cumbre, said the restaurant continues to be popular with locals, but now it’s not uncommon for people to come from Los Angeles and San Diego to try their burritos.

Anthony Bourdain also paid a visit to the tiny coffee shop connected to Pirate Cat Radio. He ordered their bacon maple latte. Now Australian tourists show up asking for it, according to Jessica Kuno, an intern at the station.

Brandon Arnovick says that Mission Minis is ready. They already went through a business surge when a coupon deal advertised by Groupon landed 3,000 new customers instead of the expected 100. Employees became so overworked that three threatened to quit. “We figured out our capacity,” Arnovick says of the experience. “We learned how to deal with disgruntled customers and maximized the use of our ingredients.”

The “Cupcake Wars” episode may be just the beginning for Mission Minis. Several people on Yelp said they were filmed at the bakery by the Food Network long after the September 13-16 taping of the reality show.

Arnovick said he couldn’t confirm or deny the rumors that a Food Network spinoff is in the works.

The filming at Mission Minis has already created some attention. Daniela Rogutj, an employee at the bakery, said people wandered in because they were curious about the cameras and ended up discovering the shop.

Arnovick won’t say if he won the $10,000 “Cupcake Wars” prize, but for now, he says, he is happy that the Food Network set its eyes on the Mission and on the crew of unorthodox bakers, most of whom don’t have formal training and never went to pastry school.

“It’s not the norm to be our motley crew of people,” Arnovick said of his bakers. “I think it was interesting to them.”

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