ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Bill Vinci grew up in the restaurant business, being the third generation of the family-owned Italian restaurant Vinci’s in Rome, New York, which closed after 65 years. He’s now the creator, producer, and host of the web show “The Empire Plate.”
“The Empire Plate” showcases mom-and-pop restaurants around New York, including right here in the Capital Region. The show is currently in its 9th season and booking for season 10.
About 11 years ago, Vinci went back to college at 43 years old. He wanted to do something different, and called his son Ryan about creating a web show like The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
“The Empire Plate” soon started featuring family-owned restaurants in Rome and Central New York. Vinci used to go door-to-door to restaurants asking if they wanted to be on the show. Now, restaurant owners and fans of the show usually reach out to him with ideas.
“It was hard work to get my name out there, especially in different areas that we never filmed before,” said Vinci.
Once Vinci is in contact with a restaurant, he has an interview with them talking about his background, how the show is filmed, the cost, and what the eatery gets out of it. He then schedules the restaurant for filming.
“The Empire Plate” team is Vinci, his son Ryan and photographer and editor Lafayette Cunningham. The show isn’t scripted, said Vinci. He just goes on camera with the basic restaurant information and “wings it.” He also tries the food for the first time on camera.
The show came to the Capital Region for the first time in season two featuring The Ruck in Troy. Vinci then started getting messages from fans to feature more restaurants in the Albany area.
“That’s probably been our biggest region of shows over the last four years,” said Vinci. “I’ve done restaurants from Johnstown, Amsterdam, Schenectady, Ballston Spa, Saratoga, Hoosick Falls, Halfmoon, and Stillwater. We’re jammed out there with restaurants and it’s been great.”
In its latest episode, The Moose Kaboose Tavern & Food Truck was featured. Previous episodes include Miller’s Backyard BBQ in Cohoes, Village Pizzeria & Ristorante in Middle Grove, and Lily’s Cafe in Glenville, among many others.
Vinci said he just booked the show’s 611th restaurant. Season 10 is set to premiere in November, and he’s already booked out with eatery shoots for more than a year in advance.
Upcoming Capital Region restaurants to be featured on “The Empire Plate” include:
- DomAdi’s Deli in Amsterdam
- Pizza King in Schenectady
- Stella’s Creamery & Cakes in Schenectady
- Carson’s Woodside Tavern in Malta
- Eddie F’s in Clifton Park
- Restaurant 605 in Albany
About five years ago, The Food Network reached out to Vinci about having a show on the channel. He had an interview but was ultimately told his show was too close to Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
“I’m kind of waiting for Guy to retire to get another shot,” Vinci said while laughing.
Vinci’s ultimate goal is to get a show on a national network. But until then, he’ll just keep doing what he’s doing: showcasing restaurants around New York.
You can watch the show on “The Empire Plate” Facebook page or YouTube page. To reach out to Vinci about featuring a restaurant, you can email him at email@example.com or reach out to him on Facebook.