Only three finalists remain standing, and on Sunday, America's Next Great Restaurant will crown its winner. The day after, a new chain of eateries will open up in Hollywood, Minneapolis and New York City — will it be the Southern Indian cuisine of Sudhir Kandula, the stick-to-your-ribs soul food of Jamawn J. Woods' or Joseph Galluzzi's saucy balls? We break down their chances:
Spice Coast, Sudhir Kandula
Why he'll win: If Chipotle is the model for a successful fast-casual restaurant chain, then it makes the most sense for Spice Coast to win. In Chipotle fashion, Sudhir has always been interested in healthier to-go food, and there are few flavors bolder than Southern Indian. He's also proven willing to adapt his ideas to those of the investors, which is important since they'll be his partners. I initially thought Indian tacos sounded like a horrible bastardization of the food he was trying to serve — to paraphrase Curtis: Soggy naan? No thanks! — but Sudhir pulled it off.
Why he won't win: Two weeks ago, Curtis read Sudhir's cheerful demeanor as arrogance. Last week, Steve didn't like that he was unable to talk about his own weaknesses. And then there was that clip of Sudhir bragging that he's been in fancy suites like the one at Caesar's Palace all the time, and the judges didn't like that he made tacos twice in a row, even though they all agreed they were tasty. Seems like he's headed for a loss, even while he's been a frontrunner the entire time (if you don't count that ridiculous kids food challenge). Either the producers are messing with us, or he'll blow it on Sunday.
Soul Daddy, Jamawn J. Woods
Why he'll win: Unlike the already booted Stephanie, Jamawn's been able to morph his original chicken-and-waffles concept into general soul food, and more recently, healthy soul food — which is a unique idea with likely mass appeal. The investors have also liked his food for the most part. But most importantly — the biggest hint, if you will — is that of the three left standing, Jamawn is the guy viewers know best. We've heard about his hard-knock past more than once. The judges have repeatedly asked him what a win would mean for him and his kids, and his response has always been accompanied by tears.
Why he won't win: A healthier version of Jamawn's concept concerns me — it doesn't sound like it will taste as good as plain ol' soul food. For soul food, I almost feel like it's gotta be "go big or go home," it has to be a place people will get a hankering for. Hopefully, I'm wrong about him converting the entire menu and he's limiting it to just a few lighter options. Having said that, I'll eat my foot if this guy doesn't win.
The Brooklyn Meatball Co., Joseph Galluzzi
Why he'll win: As Joey has said, the idea is a moneymaker! Who doesn't like a meatball? It's simple, every culture has some version of it, and just the thought a happy-hour cold one paired with some turkey smashball sliders or some good spaghetti and meatballs to-go makes me happy.
Why he won't win: Joey's been 50-50 in the taste department, and we all know the investors have no faith left in his business savvy, between his gangster-inspired staff uniforms, the decision to hold a machine gun during his photo shoot, the cheap-tastic design of his food truck ... And while he's proven to be the most enthusiastic contestant, he's not the brightest. Last week, he said he was making a healthier option: turkey meatballs with a gorgonzola cheese sauce. It will be a miracle if he wins.
The series finale of America's Next Great Restaurant airs Sunday at 8/7c. Vote for who you'd like to see win in our poll — and then tell us who you think will win in the comments below.