'Undercover Boss:' Buffets, Inc., CEO Anthony Wedo Invites Struggling Dishwasher To A Second Serving

Skye is kept on even after a bad performance and attitude

A worker must be given the proper job training if he or she is expected to succeed. But when that doesn't happen, and a worker flounders, who's to blame? The perennial workplace dilemma was on display on the most recent episode of "Undercover Boss," which featured Anthony Wedo, the CEO of Buffets, Inc., the largest buffet provider in the country. Buffets, Inc., serves 100 million guests a year at brands including Ryan's Buffet, HomeTown Buffet and Country Buffet.

Poorly trained, poorly behaved
During the episode, Wedo posed as "Mike Davis," a construction worker competing for funding to launch a new business on a separate second chances reality show. And on his first site visit he stopped in at a Ryan's Buffet in Lake Charles, LA, and was assigned to work with the restaurant's manager, Ernest. But his attention was soon commanded by Skye, a dishwasher who represented a two-fold failure -- dirty dishes were stacked as far as the eye could see and Skye had a terrible attitude to boot. Indeed, in training "Mike," Skye said the work "sucks," suggested fellow employees can be treated like "slaves," and, finally, "Mike" shouldn't gripe about not receiving more than one minute of training, as can be seen in the clip above. After all, it was the very same introduction Skye had received to the job, he said.

For Wedo, the encounter was, not surprisingly, quite frustrating. After growing up in modest circumstances with a father who worked as much as three jobs at a time, he too had put in time working as a busboy among other restaurant jobs. But he was able to climb the ranks in the hospitality sector to become an executive at companies including Boston Market and gained recognition for helping turn around companies, he said. Since taking over Buffets, Inc., he's at it again. Sales at the company have been growing in the last 12 months after a six-year span in which it filed for bankruptcy twice.

Crucial to his turnaround strategy at Buffets, Inc., Wedo told the camera, was confronting the culture of "despair." So witnessing Skye at work was like a slap in the face; Wedo even told the camera the whole situation was driving him "crazy." As a result, Wedo decided to take bold action. He approached site supervisor Ernest and asked to speak to him outside. He proceeded to out himself as company CEO and told his manager, "it's a mess back here." Why aren't we training people? What's stopping you from doing the right thing, he asked Ernest.

The managerial response
It wasn't the first time a boss grew so frustrated on the show he moved to out himself on the hit CBS series, now in the middle of its fifth season. Back in season three, for instance, Diamond Resorts CEO Stephen Cloobeck was so angry that one of his workers failed to apply a company policy of never saying "no" when dealing with a customer on the telephone that he told her who he really was. But he then told her the blame lay at the feet of her manager and that her position was safe.

Another highly memorable incident from the series came later in season three when Rick Silva, the CEO of the fast food burger chain, Checkers and Rally's, visited a site whose performance was utterly incompetent -- the speaker at the drive-through station was broken, there's been a lack of training, and the manager is seen barking orders. Silva shut down the site on the spot.

Which path was Wedo to take? "I don't want to do this anymore, I am done," he told the camera shortly after pulling Wedo aside. But he chose to defer any decision until the show's reveal. His restraint foreshadowed the moderate approach he took with Skye. He did make clear his disappointment, telling Skye, "You don't embody any of the culture that I want in our restaurants, frankly." But in deciding his response, Wedo took aim at the culture of the workplace, and not at the worker himself. He said the restaurant and its training processes needed to be overhauled and Skye could be given a second chance to prove himself.

Moderation, however, was not Wedo's approach with all the workers he met on the episode. And with good reason, too. Wedo, much like many of the bosses who appear on the show, came across workers on his site visits who were soldiering on in the face of serious adversity. There was, for instance, Michelle, who works as a cashier for HomeTown Buffet in Fresno, Calif. Michelle understands that good cheer is vital for such a frontline position and proceeded to urge Mike he needed to handle problems at the register "with a smile."

The energetic approach was all the more impressive when considering that Michelle was forced to leave high school early to help care for her mother as a result of her cancer. And to top it off Michelle said she had no safety net to rely on. In the reveal, Wedo told her he was going to give her a total of $30,000 in rewards, half of which would be reserved for her education. Michelle had told "Mike" she would one day like to work as a criminal profiler.
Filed under: Undercover Boss
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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Usa=CeoCons

P.s. #2 invest a few bucks and install a longer dishwashing area...

January 25 2014 at 3:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usa=CeoCons

P.s. I wouldn't have fired him either. Looked pretty busy, and I didn't see anyone complain about a dirty dish. The Bellys of america have grown exponentially, Serve More Salads......and teach the dishwasher to cook...

January 25 2014 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usa=CeoCons

To get angry at an overworked underpaid worker is a waste of time. Teach that worker to do His "Job" as Best he can, Teach him Excellence". Anthony Wedo and hometown buffet have their work cut out for them. Though not impossible, Hometown buffet must or at least (I think) should, learn how to keep the brand updated, without digging unnecessarily deeper financially. I won't get into details here, but let's just say I've walked the lane, for bout hmmmmm" 6 trips. Long enough to see the layout and the ridiculous spending that goes into what I think for the $$$$$ is sub par decor. Its amazing (I'm termed old) in the marketplace, yet was just riding a skateboard.... lol. Do you think everyone overlooks the dirt and grime of many of Americas restaurants? Certain types tolerate it. Like some backwoods greasy spoon that has grease stuck to the fryer wheels. Being Responsible fiscally doesn't mean, tossing your patrons toxins while you treat the "People whom actually run business like dogs. Corporate america provides a Great service to those of us who choose to patronize their business. Stockholders Care". I Care. Provide Xlnt Customer Service. Keep it Clean" and let the lazy ones go. Find people that are motivated to Provide excellent service, whatch your profits grow. Profit share. And Become a part of the solution. Rather than taking advantage of the massive labor pool. Signed: The elephant man, that America won't hire....

January 25 2014 at 2:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dmgg711

This is why restaurants who need dishwashers prefer Hispanics because no job is menial as long as they have a job. It's not true that Hispanics working in the restaurant industry are undocumented because their work ethics is to work and any job that pays wages is better than nothing. Dishwashing jobs and bus boys are not jobs that the majority of American citizens prefer not to work at but if you really need to work then something is better than nothing.

October 28 2013 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
qzeemerel2

He hates his job as dishwasher?? Does anyone NOT hate being a dishwasher? I would worry about a man who did not hate being a dishwasher. It's the bottom of the ladder.

October 24 2013 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to qzeemerel2's comment
dmgg711

Yep, an American citizens would rather work earning high wages, right? Now do you understand why companies hire undocumented workers? They appreciate any job they can get to earn a living. Nothing is too little in wages as long as it's a job.

October 28 2013 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Logesh Waran S

I agree with you patricia. Your comment is a acceptable one.


http://www.jobsincoimbatore.co.in

October 22 2013 at 7:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
patricia720205

MANY COMPANIES DO NOT TRAIN EMPLOYEES PROPERLY.....BUT IF YOU HAVE ANY BRAINS AT ALL.....YOU LEARN ON YOUR OWN OR ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR JOB.....THIS EMPLOYEE HAD NO WORK ETHIC AT ALL.....SHOW HIM THE BACK DOOR!!!!!!!

October 22 2013 at 5:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gkm628b

If he doesn't like washing Dishes perhaps he would be happier as a surgeon or Lawyer, It's a free country, he can apply.

October 22 2013 at 4:42 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rsceo1

Buffet's Inc practices many despicable practices including age discrimination against many employees that are about to finally get some benefits from the company and then are terminated based on false accusations. I have and have influenced many of my friends to boycott their restaurants. I am waiting for the day when these things come to light.

As far as the poor, poor dishwasher he was not right for the job....unfortunately like a quickly growing segment of our population he will never be right for ANY job.

Please spare me with the corporate blah blah about proper training. My family has been in the restaurant business for 30+ years and there were many times when I would help in the kitchen while waiting for my mother to get off of work. She had to show me one time how to buss and clean a table, scrape plates, rack and rinse the dishes and put them through the commercial dish washer and I was 12.
You can't fix stupid, ignorant, lazy people that were raised without being taught a work ethic.

October 22 2013 at 4:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
forvr22

This dishwasher is typical of no work ethic uneducated workers. He needs to go, he will not change. A dose of reality is in order, that his laziness will not do. Talk about acting entitled!

October 22 2013 at 1:33 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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