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Willie Degel is known for running a tight ship at his restaurants. His secret: cameras canvassing every inch of his restaurant, allowing him to keep a close eye on his floor, staff and patrons. Restaurant Stakeout follows as Willie takes his practices to troubled restaurateurs looking to find and rectify the hidden problems that lie within their establishments.
Willie is called in to rescue, Pat, the chef/owner of PK's Restaurant & Lounge in Staten Island, N.Y. When Pat opened his restaurant a year ago it was a dream come true, but now it's become a nightmare. Only Willie can help him whip his young, inexperienced staff into shape and get the sprawling menu under control.
Willie comes to the aid of Dena, owner of BlonDee's Bistro & Bar in Huntington, N.Y. Dena opened BlonDee's a year ago as a way to support her three children, but after an unfavorable review from the New York Times, she spends all of her time at the restaurant and away from her kids. Willie soon discovers that Dena's dedication has turned into a lack of delegation, crippling the workflow of the restaurant in a myriad of ways.
Willie rushes to 90 Park in North Bergen, N.J., to come to the rescue of chef/owner Antonia. Due to a family illness, Antonia shifted her attention away from the restaurant and now she's paying for it, even borrowing against her house to keep the business running. Though a wizard in the kitchen, Antonia is a disaster when it comes to managing her staff and handling the finances. Without Willie's help, she'll lose her business and her home.
Willie is called in to help husband and wife Larry and Joan, owners of The Original Mama Angelo's in North Arlington, N.J. This family-style Italian eatery's authentic cuisine is no longer enough to keep customers coming back for more, and they are worried about losing everything. Pouring their life savings into the declining business, Larry and Joan need Willie to pull Mama Angelo's back from the brink of disaster.
Joe is struggling as a first-time restaurant owner. After his mother's passing, Joe took a big gamble and used his inheritance to open Joe Broadway's Billiards & Sports Pub in Staten Island, N.Y. For the past year, Joe has run himself into the ground simply trying to stay afloat. He's not making any money, his staff is unprofessional and his chef is at wit's end and about to quit. Without Willie's help, Joe's big gamble will go bust.
Willie is called in by Donna, the owner of Beso Restaurant and Bar in Brooklyn. Though a successful businesswoman, Donna's first try at running a restaurant is coming as a shock. A strong early start has recently turned into bad reviews and plummeting profits and Donna's iron grip on the staff hasn't improved service. Without Willie's help, this once promising establishment will close its doors for good.
Willie is called in to help lifelong best friends and current business partners Joe and Gene. Four years ago the former Wall Street hotshots opened Somers 202 in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. While locals initially loved the restaurant, lately business has bottomed out. The owners dream of passing the restaurant down to their children, but without Willie's help, shutting the doors on Somers 202 may be their only reality.
Willie is called in by Alan, owner of Sugo Cafe, a family-run business in Long Beach, N.Y. For the past six years, Alan, a total control freak, has devoted every waking moment to his struggling restaurant at the cost of spending time with his wife and watching his kids grow up. Desperate to spend time with his loved ones, Alan has staffed Sugo with family and friends, but immediately discovers that business and family do no mix and, in fact, could be the recipe for disaster at the cafe.
Willie comes to the aid of Anthony and Toby, owners of Hot Rods Real Pit BBQ in Wharton, N.J. After 10 years, the restaurant is still struggling to succeed and it's robbing Anthony and Toby of precious hours they should be spending with their young daughter. Willie soon finds that bad attitudes and a significant lack of training are among the worst offenders on the floor — and it will take some serious hands-on intervention to turn things around.
Willie comes to the aid of Luis, who, with his mother, own The Latin Kitchen in the Bronx, N.Y. After a freak accident that nearly claimed his mother's life and the arrival of new competition in the neighborhood, Luis is on the verge of ruin. It's up to Willie to take an unfocused, unguided staff and turn them into the winning team that Louis and his mother so desperately need.
Willie steps in to help Lisa, owner of The Bayou in North Bellmore, N.Y. After 22 years serving up authentic cajun flavors, customers now seem to be disappearing. Willie soon discovers that a disillusioned leader and a staff that treats the place more like Mardi Gras than a restaurant, may be at the heart of the problem.
After 20 years of hard work and chasing the American dream, going from dishwasher to owner, Juan opened Roasted Peppers in Mamaroneck, N.Y., with his business partner and co-chef, Darrell. No matter how hard they try, they can barely make ends meet. Complicating matters, Juan's 11-year-old son was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Desperate for help, Juan turns to Willie to save his restaurant and keep his dream alive.
Willie is called in to help Mohammad, owner of Shiraz Persian Restaurant in Elmsford, N.Y., who has already been forced out business twice before. But with staff infighting, laziness and an owner who is too afraid to lay down the law, Willie quickly discovers that there may be more problems at Shiraz than even he can fix.
Willie comes to the aid of Danny, owner of Danny's Steakhouse in Red Bank, N.J. After 42 years in the business, Danny has seemingly tried everything, but his business is struggling. Danny is desperate to slow down, but doesn't think his staff can manage without him. Willie discovers that not only is the staff incompetent, but there may be a thief in their midst.
Joe, the owners of The Venetian Grille in Somerville, N.J., grew up in the business and took over the family restaurant eight years ago. After an unsuccessful attempt at opening a new restaurant, Joe returned to The Venetian Grille and found business had disappeared. Willie quickly discovers that an unprofessional staff, confused identity and frustrated manager are just a few of the problems that need fixing.
Willie comes to the aid of Rene, co-owner of Barzola Restaurant in Flushing, N.Y. Rene inherited the restaurant from his parents but is now struggling to make ends meet, and has no idea what needs fixing. Willie's surveillance uncovers a lack of knowledge on the menu, bad attitudes on the floor and a serious lack of inventory, that may be dragging the restaurant down.
Willie answers the call of Frank, owner of Michael's Roscommon House in Belleville, N.J. Frank inherited the restaurant from his late father and is struggling to keep things afloat. Willie soon finds that an untrained staff, lack of structure and an unruly chef are only part of Frank's problem: Frank himself must learn to step up and lead as his father once did, or kiss his business goodbye.
A.J., owner of A.J.'s Burgers in New Rochelle, N.Y., can't seem to make ends meet, despite award winning burgers and a commitment to pleasing his customers. Willie soon discovers the issues driving A.J. into the poor house, including an overloaded menu, confused identity and a burned out manager.
Willie steps in to assist Sean, the young owner of Smokehouse Barbecue in Somerville, N.J., Willie finds that an unprofessional staff, more interested in pulling pranks than customer service, may be more than Sean's business can survive.
Willie travels to Joey D's Pizzeria in Metuchen, N.J., to help the owner, Joey, put an end to the family drama that is tearing his business apart. Eight years ago, Joey risked everything to pursue a lifelong goal of opening his own restaurant. The gamble paid off as his establishment soon became a local favorite. But now, after almost a decade of successful operation, Joey's twentysomething stepdaughters have essentially taken control of the joint. Their bad behavior is driving customers away and if Willie can't help Joey rein them in, he just might lose everything.
Willie comes to the aid of Dawn, owner of the Liberty Bar and Grill in Hoboken, N.J. After 14 years in business, Dawn's restaurant is struggling and she's called Willie for answers. He soon discovers that Dawn's hands-off management style has created a leadership vacuum and some serious personnel issues that threaten to bring the business to its knees.
Willie helps out Melissa O’Connell, a too-sweet wife, mother and owner of The Pepper Jack Grill in Staten Island. Melissa treats her staff like family, and, like any family, they bring the dysfunction. Their fighting, drinking, and unprofessional behavior is driving customers away and causing business to suffer. Despite the grill’s problem’s, Melissa’s hanging on to the business because of a promise she made to her young daughter. But if Willie can’t help her, she may soon have no choice but close up shop.
Willie helps first-time owner, Michael, fix his struggling Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Autentica, in Bloomfield, N.J. Opening just one year ago, Michael's restaurant has wrestled with novice mistakes, botched food orders and a young staff behaving inappropriately. Now, a wave of negative customer reviews is seriously threatening the restaurant's bottom line. If things don't change fast, the restaurant may have to close its doors for good.
Willie comes to the aid of Spiro, owner of Athena Mediterranean Cuisine in Brooklyn, N.Y. The restaurant is a family affair for Spiro, with his mother, three brothers and a nephew all playing roles in it's day-to-day operation. But it's dwindling customer base and reviews pointing to unprofessional service suggest that sometimes business and family are a bad mix. If Willie can't get this passionate family operating on the same page, Spiro's restaurant could become another Greek tragedy.
Willie is called upon to help struggling owner and chef Mike, of Trends Restaurant in Staten Island, N.Y. The business is collapsing and Mike is at the mercy of his out-of-control staff. His problems are compounded by the fact that his manager son, Nick, is often missing in action instead of leading by example. Mike's always dreamed of one day passing the restaurant onto his son. But if Willie can't get this kid to step up and take control, there may be no business to inherit.
Willie is called in to help the Haven Grill in Port Washington, N.Y. Tough economic times recently prompted this family-run restaurant to move from traditional Italian fare to an American menu with broader appeal. But, with the business still struggling, the restaurant has developed an identity crisis that's taking its toll on the married owners. Their daughter, Stefania, is desperate for Willie to sort this messy situation out and get the Haven Grill on the right track before it's too late.
Willie steps in to help Anna Maria, chef and owner of Anna Maria's Italian Restaurant in Larchmont, N.Y. While her food gets raves, her restaurant has developed a reputation for nickel-and-diming the customer and it's driving business out the door. If Willie can't solve the service problems, Anna Maria's dream of running her own restaurant is destined to become a nightmare.
Willie has his work cut out for him when he stakes out the Oakwood Diner in Staten Island, N.Y. The owner, Mike Jr., has been around the diner business his entire life. Following in his successful father's footsteps, he took over the Oakwood Diner two and a half years ago. Mike inherited an undisciplined staff that treats the place like their living room and drives customers away with rude and inappropriate behavior.
Willie is called in to help a desperate owner, Antony, save his Italian restaurant, Serata, in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Antony's rowdy employees have created an atmosphere that's more sideshow than serene, and business is suffering. The situation is complicated by the fact that Serata's main investor, Vinny, is also Antony's best friend. The two lifelong friends need Willie to get their restaurant back on track before their business and relationship come to an unhappy ending.
Willie comes to the aid of Tom, proud owner of Nauna's Bella Casa, who's spent the past 24 years building his restaurant into an established Montclair, N.J., eatery. Now, the married 45-year-old owner is looking to take a step back from his demanding business to start a family. Tom's enlisted Willie to help him figure out what his staff is doing when he's not around that's costing him customers, so he can salvage his restaurant's reputation before it's too late.
Willie comes to the aid of Nick, owner of the Pita Grill in Hoboken, N.J. Nick recently achieved a lifelong goal of opening up his own restaurant, as part owner of a small franchise business. Nick's invested everything into the place and needs it to work. But now an unruly staff, more interested in having fun than customer service, could destroy his dream and cost him everything. Willie is Nick's last hope to help straighten out his staff and his business before the Pita Grill is forced to close its doors for good.
At Ariana Restaurant in Huntington, N.Y., Willie Degel finds a family-run business suffering from too much family and not enough business. The owner's son, Joey, has reached out to Willie to help save the restaurant and convince his father that recent reviews point to a painful truth: The lax atmosphere toward customers is driving business away and threatens to run Ariana's into the ground.
One of the first things Willie Degel discovers when he arrives at the Mt. Ivy Café in Pomona, N.Y., is that the problems of this restaurant may not be with the staff, but with the owner. She is nickel and diming her clients and this may mean certain death for the business unless Willie can find a manager and bring in a younger clientele. Will Willie's stakeout uncover the problems behind the restaurant's decline or is it too late for the Mt. Ivy Café?
New York restaurant czar Willie Degel heads to Firefly restaurant in Las Vegas to answer the restaurant owner's plea for help. Willie's team of surveillance professionals equips the entire restaurant with hidden cameras and microphones to determine the root of the problem. Do the restaurant's problems come from the wait staff? Or do they start from the top down? Plus, what happens when a waitress goes rogue?
Willie Degel puts his skills and knowledge to the test at Lexington Grille and Pub in Bardonia, N.Y., where he tries to save the restaurant from total collapse by reining in the party-hearty ways of an out-of-control staff. After many successful years, the restaurant is squandering money, and Willie's job is to find out why. He and his team set up a covert stakeout to see where all the cash is going - but can he stop the insanity before the business goes under?
Willie Degel heads to Agnello's Pizzeria in New City, N.Y., to help pizza royalty make peace between family partners. After battling several life-threatening illnesses, the owner appeals to Willie to ensure that her family can work together and continue their legacy. Willie must use his stakeout team to discover the restaurant's problems and weed out the bad eggs to bring a family together.
Willie Degel travels to Willy Parker's restaurant in Williston Park, N.Y., and discovers that the biggest problems are the owners, who are brothers. Their feuding and bickering is dragging Willy Parker's down. If Willie's stakeout can't solve the problems, the brothers' dream of restaurant success as well as their life's savings will be lost forever.
Willie Degel travels to Las Vegas to help the owners of Bar + Bistro, a restaurant that has been built in an art gallery. Husband and wife Wes and Debra have passion for their establishment but ZERO knowledge of how a restaurant should be run. After being shafted by two previous chefs, things are now desperate as the married couple turns to Willie for help. Will Willie create a restaurant masterpiece or is Bar + Bistro doomed?
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