Last night’s episode of “Restaurant Stakeout” was titled “Clueless Cousins.” Willie Degel came to VB3 a high end Italian restaurant in Jersey City, N.J.
Willie met with co-owner Joe Russo and his cousin, acclaimed chef and co-owner Michael Colletti, and discovered after running several successful pizzerias and having a cousin who has run several high end kitchens, their business is nearly a million dollars in debt and called in Willie for help.
After installing the hidden cameras, they set up in a surveillance van close to the restaurant. Willie used his four-step plan to get to the bottom of the problems here. He identified the key staff, observed their behavior, tested the systems and in the end will confront the staff.
As they observed the operation, the owners pointed out the bartender Patrick, and he immediately found out that there is no bar menu for food if someone just wanted a few drinks and some typical bar food. Natasha, a waitress was spotted behind the bar having a shot with a customer. Devon, a host greeted a woman who came in seeking employment. She asked about the place, and he told her it was like a revolving door, not a place to expect to hold a job. Willie was very critical of his clients and their wishy-washy attitudes that projected across the front of the house. No employee received anything but lame assessments by the owners, as they mostly hire actors who are waiting for their next gig and do not really have their heart in the business.
Willie sent in Ally, who played an actress who had an audition that evening. Casey, her waiter told her he was an actor too, and she allowed him to read the script with her. Rather than do his job; the reading started to annoy other guests, as they read the lines with more and more intensity, they got louder and louder until it was apparent that service came to a halt.
Every staff member had been there only a short time; the training was lacking, and the owners did not seem to have a handle on their operation. As Cynthia, a waitress of one month took a food order, she objected when Rojelio, a busboy/food runner insisted on bringing the food to her table. She was told by the staff that he brought the food to the tables, but to avoid an argument, he walked out.
When Willie found out that this situation has been going on without a remedy, he asked Joe a good question. If Willie stabbed him, would he keep bleeding or go for stitches? He replied that he would go for stitches, and Willie then told him that this situation kept bleeding without treatment.
Pam and Rebecca came in to test Angela, another one-month employee. Rebecca asked if she had a steak on the menu, and Angela pointed out the menu with a finger in her face. When they insisted that they were in a hurry, she brought them the wrong food and lost her patience with the customers.
Willie’s assessment of the place was: an under-performing bar, lack of dedication and inadequate training.
When Joe and Mike called the staff together, Willie walked in to give them the lowdown. Willie confronted the staff about their attitude and lack of training. They stated that Joe was not there enough and when he is, he is on his cell phone. Then Joe told the staff that one of them had to go, and he was no longer soft. Casey was let go for his attitude and immediately Joe gave the impression that he was not a softie. Willie showed him how to greet customers with authority and assure them they came to the right place. In the kitchen, Willie and Mike created a bar menu that would keep customers at the bar and increase revenue. Willie went behind the bar with Patrick to create some drinks to add to the food menu.
He met with three waitresses who added their input. Angela, who Willie was unsure of, added her two-cents to put in a vegetarian menu, because half of the customers wanted vegetarian items. Willie was impressed with her knowledge and customer service.
Six weeks later, Willie returned to seeing Joe greet him at the door, totally in control. He let Devon go and now greets every customer. In the kitchen, Mike told him that since Joe was in the front, the place is doing much better. At the bar, Patrick showed Willie the new drink and food menu created just for the bar, and Willie had a beer and wings. All is now going very well at VB3 thanks to Willie and his staff of “Restaurant Stakeout.”
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