'Undercover Boss': Boston Market's Sara Bittorf Fires A Worker On The Spot

Undercover Boss Boston Market


Most workers feel frustrated at one point or another. But not many of us have the bad judgment -- and misfortune -- to let it rip in the office -- in front of a top exec. That's what happened to Ronnie, a shift supervisor at a branch of the Boston Market Corp. in Duluth, Ga., when he indulged his anger during his appearance on "Undercover Boss" this past Friday.

Of course, Ronnie had no way of knowing that the person he was unloading to was Sara Bittorf, the chief brand officer of Boston Market who was starring in an episode of the CBS series. Bittorf had claimed to be "Rachel Rand," a diner waitress appearing on a second chances reality show, who was hoping to open her own restaurant.

But Ronnie's behavior was so over the top that it was understandable when Bittorf -- assigned to work with him -- fired him on camera -- making him the first worker to be fired on the air in the four seasons of "Undercover Boss," CBS has confirmed. It was an understandable decision. After all, Ronnie complained nonstop in the episode about how Boston Market workers are instructed to put "customers on a pedestal" and of the company's "ridiculous standards," which included the mandate that food be prepared well.

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Ronnie spoke of how he "hates the customers" and joked about spreading leprosy in the kitchen. "I'm the Kim Kardashian of Boston Market," he added, an acknowledgement of his diva-like behavior. Bittorf, the marketing boss for the $500-million-a-year company, was so beside herself that she fled to the branch's parking lot to collect her thoughts.

It's understandable that any top corporate executive would lose her patience. But those at Boston Market are under extra pressure -- the company that was previously known as Boston Chicken declared bankruptcy in 1998 before re-branding itself.

And so Bittorf decided immediately to fire Ronnie. It's unclear how the chain of events might have actually unfolded but, in the episode, Bittorf says that she "can't stand by" before calling Ronnie outside.

When Bittorf revealed herself to be a Boston Market executive, Ronnie knew immediately that he was in deep trouble. "You got me," he said.

"I don't know if this is the business for you," Bittorf told him, explaining how customer service is at the core of Boston Market's approach.

Though it was a first for a boss to fire a worker on the show, other bosses have been moved to reveal their true identities when they saw an urgent need to.

In a memorable instance last season, Rick Silva, the CEO of the Checkers and Rally's fast-food burger chain, came across a branch in Homestead, Fla., where the speaker system at the drive-through window was broken and floor managers who had barely received any training still felt confident enough to bark at underlings. Silva promptly shut down the branch

But in that case, Silva assured the workers that no one's job was in jeopardy.

Luckily for Boston Market's Bittorf, that was the worst of her experiences undercover. The other employees who "Rachel" trained with were in fact the type of employees who C-level executives likely dream about.

There was Sash, an assistant general manager in Tampa, Fla. "Rachel" worked with her at the carving station. And while another worker could be heard saying how "Rachel" was "taking an eternity," Sash patiently guided her through the process, instructing her that carving takes "finesse," even as "Rachel" massacred a few of the birds.

More: 'Undercover Boss': 5 Most Gripping Moments From Season 3


There was also AJ, a worker at a drive-thru in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Although he had only been on the job for three months at that point, he had no problem completing an order under a minute's time, as the company mandates, and as demonstrated by a timer that the Denver-based company installs in each location.

"Rachel," for her part, couldn't keep up. "There were moments when I wished the beeping could stop beeping," she said of the timer. AJ's good conduct was all the more impressive after it came out that his time with Boston Market followed a two-year period during which he was out of work, and followed a stint in the county jail.

These two workers were taken care of in the reveal. AJ was given a gift of $20,000. And Sash was told that she will oversee a program that makes sure all Boston Market employee take full advantage of their break times, which was previously not occurring. She was also given a check of $20,000 so that she can quit her second job, a move which Bittorf said she hopes will allow her to devote time to the nursing degree that she seeks. "When i think about the future," Sash said, "it feels so much easier."

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to the Florida city as Tampa Bay.

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Stephen R. Stapleton

The article keeps describing Ronnie's behavior, but he wasn't fired for his behavior. From what little we could see, he was, despite his personal views on customers, very good with them. While he may have privately disliked them, nothing in the show showed him mistreating anyone. He voiced his private feelings to someone he felt he should be honest with as she was entering into the industry and was promptly fired, not for behavior, but for opinion. Moreover, Ms. Bittorf observed him for just a few hours at most, not even a full day and then, without looking at his work record or performance reviews, fired him. It was a very bad decision on her part and shows she is a very immature supervisor.

September 24 2013 at 3:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stephen R. Stapleton's comment
Stan Golden

That's perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've ever read about employees, conduct and supervision.

December 30 2013 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan

I was wondering how they select which branches to send the undercover boss to. They have hundreds of restaurants – how did they pick the 4 that she went to? And, _who_ picked them?

September 20 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Diane Poole-Sendlosk

Why did you show his face, I will never stop at Boston Market, I may disagree with any employee, but never wished his face to be shown, from Fort Myers Fl, I am a customer, will never stop at your place

September 20 2013 at 8:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stormwinterguard

Dear God
I'm watching the undercover recap show about winners.
Listen, you just went on a rant that you're not gay????
Rofl are I kidding????????? You ARE GAY as they come, your two friends on your couch are gay.
You're so called GF is a cover up, lol.
Be honest dude, you are truest the gayest
Be a diva but damn girl, be honest !!!!!

May 11 2013 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alexandra T.

Ron was a victim of crafty editing, yes he can control what comes out of his mouth, but the television show portrays him with such negativity. Him getting fired was not that terribly dramatic, and she didn't even fire him. She told him go home for the day, and then his manager let him go, when he didn't want to I might add. His manager is a corporate puppet being told what to do. And that's the big problem with this episode. Sara is CORPORATE she didn't know what to do or how things went in the customer service part of the restaurant, she only knows how to run the corporation. May I point out she didn't even know how to fabricate chicken... At all... She doesn't know what it's even like. This show did not show Ron's good side and how great of a manager he was. He may have said those things, but he said them in confidence, and he sure as hell did not say them to a customer's face. He gave great customer service and knew what he was doing, unlike Bidorf. If only you people could think and assess before you speak. Don't believe everything you see on TV.

May 09 2013 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alina

the bible quote some where to be kind to stranger because some of you had entretain angels without knowing

February 08 2013 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
yenta72

He definitely learned a valuable lesson and hopefully goes on from there.

February 05 2013 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
lovetheworld82

Filling an order in under a minute....at a fast food place....with food lines and microwaves...rocket science

February 05 2013 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marvetta Deniece

A lawsuit for what, I might ask.....? He vented without being asked or prompted and she stopped him and identified herself when he went overboard. He should have indeed been fired for saying that he "hated" the customers, there is no customer training that will make an employee not hate his job. Customer Service Training is only effective for those employees that want to change and get better and those that want to provide even greater customer service. The comments about joking that he wanted to spead a disease within the establishment is of great concern, as he is in a position to tamper with the food and therfore the health of everyone that works or is a customer and this should have been grounds enough...... His behavior was mean, and that behavior could possible play out in a worse manner, how was she to know what he may do if he felt like this already. She did the right thing to protect him (from himself and his bad behavior), the customers and the company by being responsible.

February 05 2013 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marvetta Deniece's comment
alexclaire911

He was asked and he was prompted! The producer of the show that was there continuously pulled him aside to tell him "be mean, don't talk business talk socially. Tell her what you hate and dont like!" the producers set him up for good tv!

February 05 2013 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alexclaire911's comment
Sarah Elizabeth Oliv

that is a lie prove it

September 20 2013 at 8:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
Mary Swaddle

This makes Boston Market look like it can't hire competent workers.

February 05 2013 at 11:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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