Tonight’s episode of “Restaurant Stakeout,” the investigative program on Food Network was titled “Your Smokehouse Is a Joke-House.” Hosted by Willie Degel, owner of several successful steakhouses in New York City, he and his team plant hidden cameras in failing restaurants to discover the reason or reasons why they experience low sales, unhealthy happenings in the kitchen and poor service. His claim to fame is that he does the same thing in his own restaurants, which are well run and thriving.
In this episode, Willie Degel heard from Sean Ulley, owner of “Smokehouse Barbeque” in Somerville. He owned the restaurant for about eighteen months after working at his father’s restaurant, he decided to go on his own. The online reviews show that the staff is the detriment to this place, even though the food is great. Now he needs to get to the bottom of the problem and get the place rolling.
Willie got the keys from Sean and got to work with his crew setting up the cameras and microphones. As Willie and Sean watched the business operation. Sean knows that his father wants him to close the restaurant, but he does not want to fail.
As Willie questioned Sean, he identified the workers in the restaurant. The server Diego promised the customers who were in a hurry, that their food would be out soon, but it never showed up, and they left without paying.
Sean watched as customers ordered food from waitress, Megan. The steak ordered medium came out well done. The replacement steak was blood red, and the man could not even cut it.
Willie then sent in Jason and Tanya to see if Lauren, the newest waitress knew the menu. They asked if the ribs were baby back or St. Louis style, and she did not know. She failed each question they asked and had to check the menu to answer the questions. The staff is seriously in need of training.
Willie asked Sean if he was a good boss, because it seemed that there was no pride in the workers. As the waitress was taking the order from a table of guys, one of them was flirting with her and it rattled her. She then spread the negativity to the rest of the staff. With no leadership, this place is headed for the unemployment line.
As the restaurant is empty one afternoon, the staff is sitting around and decides to change the closed-circuit television, a complete violation of Sean’s rules. The staff even ordered a pizza during service and took the money from the register. Then they played tricks on each other. Diego put salt and pepper in Megan’s drink, so to get even; she pulled his pants down while he was waiting on customers. Willie was livid and ordered a staff meeting.
After calling an emergency meeting, Willie walked in to take over. He reprimanded them for the tomfoolery and lack of customer service. Lauren was the biggest problem; she did not know the menu, and her customer service skills were lacking. Diego is attending school and hopes to be an officer in the Marine Corp., but knew the Marines would not stand for the actions he saw. Willie showed the entire staff, including Sean how to run a tight ship. He had them cleaning and tidying up the place so it was a welcoming sight for customers.
He then went to the kitchen and showed the chef how to make a good steak, if anyone should know, it is Willie. The steaks were like butter, and should never be sent back.
Six weeks later, when Willie came back, he saw a well-run restaurant and even got to meet Sean’s parents. Happy customers were a tribute to the wonderful helping hand and swift kick in the pants they received from Willie Degel and his staff of “Restaurant Stakeout.”
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