The purple-cloaked, ubiquitous Phantom Gourmet brand is more visible than ever.
That’s how creators Dave, Dan and Michael Andelman like it.
Youngest brother Dan, 40, is host and executive producer of the popular television show, which airs on myTV’s38, Saturdays and Sundays, 10:30 and 11 a.m. He does a feature stint on WBZ-4 Evening News, on CW28 in Providence, R.I., and Fox-23 in Maine. He also broadcasts three times a week on WSBK-TV and on WTKK Radio96, highlighting restaurant recommendations, interviews, savory specials, prices and contact information. And Phantom Gourmet videos appear daily on Boston.com.
Eldest brother Dave, Phantom’s CEO and self-professed “least cool man on the planet,” started Phantom Gourmet in 1993, while attending graduate school, and brought his brothers into the business. It was supposed to be a part-time job, not a career.“It was intended to be something fun,” he said.
Twenty-two years later, it’s that, and more. “We were lucky. Phantom started the same time as Food Network. [Phantom] was a food show for people who like to eat, while the Network was for people who liked to cook,” said Dave. “We were at the forefront of covering restaurants that people like to go to – good food and great value.”
Dave, who’s single, lives in Boston and Revere Beach, holds a J.D./M.B.A, and passed the Massachusetts Bar. A registered lobbyist, he formed a trade association, a restaurant and business alliance, and proudly announced the association the Andelman brothers founded was instrumental in the passage of five laws.
Dan, who lives in Wellesley with wife Ali and three children, is Phantom’s show runner and show host. He’s in charge of the business content and creative side, working from his office at WBZ-Boston, shooting videos, writing scripts, and interviewing restaurateurs and chefs. Dave recruited Dan immediately after Dan graduated from Union College. “I have a passion for food and restaurants, so its fun for me to tell their stories,” Dan said.
Elusive, camera-shy Michael Andelman, who graduated from Georgetown Business School, also married with children, is in charge of the Phantom Gourmet Food News Division, handling Phantom’s gift card and events business.
The Andelmans also produce huge food and charitable events, such as the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival, BBQ Beach Party, Gourmet Wine and Food Phest, and longtime Phantom Gourmet Hot Dog Safari their father, Eddie, initiated years ago, to benefit the Joey Fund and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Now retired, Eddie and wife Judi live in Boston’s South End.
Despite this era of declining drive-in movie emporiums, the Andelmans bought the sprawling, 16-acre, tree-lined Mendon Drive-In on Route 16 in Mendon last year, hoping to “make it the best drive-in experience in the country,” said Dave.
“Drive-ins have come and gone, but this place is thriving. It takes lots of hard work by a lot of people,” said Dan. “It has been a daunting task, but it’s a labor of love for us. It’s taking a good thing and making it even better.”
“We made a lot of changes. We spent a fortune to clean up the grounds, put in the beer and wine garden, renamed the snack bar after Mom [Judi] and the beer garden after Dad,” said Dave. They also expanded on-site services, creating a fun, family and go-to destination for parties, events, and more, he said.
The drive-in is closed weekdays but bustles on weekends, rain or shine.
They credit their close family relationship with their success.
“I’ve been blessed in many ways in my life. My family – my mom and dad are the best of the best, and my mom has kept us all grounded and filled me with an optimistic view of life. Dad was the ultimate role model – a larger than life character….” said Dave.
Longtime sports radio celebrity Eddie Andelman was inducted in the Mass. Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011, was featured in Time and Newsweek magazines and immortalized on the Maine Diner menu. Eddie was also active in the community and business, said Dan.
Phantom Gourmet’s crew won seven Emmy Awards last year. “Our popularity amazes and humbles us. We’re hardworking guys. We take a lot of pride in what we do.”