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‘Restaurant Stakeout’ rescues Division Street Grill in Peekskill, N.Y.

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Last night's episode of “Restaurant Stakeout” was titled "Division Street Disaster." Willie Degel came to help out Division Street Grill in Peekskill, N.Y.

Willie met with Arne Paglia, the owner of the establishment. He opened the place in 1998, as his first restaurant, with hospitality experience, but had never owned a restaurant before. With several hundred thousand dollars in the restaurant, it is about to sing its swan song. Having success for fifteen years, he called in Willie to help him solve the problems before it is too late.

The online reviews rave about the food, but the service is horrendous. So Willie met with Arne, who was not sure exactly where the problems lie. After Willie and his crew got to work, they set up close to the restaurant and Willie sat with Arne to watch the action.

Willie, as always, used his four-point strategy to; observe the key staff, identify the issues, test the knowledge among the staff and correct the problems.

Pasquale, the chef is a hot head, but seems to have calmed down in the eleven years he has been there. When a customer walked into the place, there was nobody behind the bar, or anywhere in earshot as he called out for service. Finally, he went behind the bar, made himself a soda, drank it and left, and nobody was the wiser. Then they spotted Osley, a waiter there for ten years, come into the restaurant. He went into the kitchen and changed his pants. He then waited on the lone customer who was there for lunch. When a woman came in to have a drink, he was rude to her and continued to make her wait, because he was waiting on the diner, and had to tend bar too. When she asked him if he was the only one there, he gave her a curt reply, and she walked out.

Later, Laura, another server was behind the bar when a man came in for a drink. Arne told Willie that the wait-staff also tended bar. Jairo, another server, there for four years, was making a drink. He then waited on a man who asked for information about the menu. He answered every question, but he was vague in his recommendations. Willie was disappointed in Arne’s lackadaisical attitude about his staff. Willie then spotted Osley offering to go across the street to get a drink for a woman at the bar. Then he called the same restaurant to see if they had guacamole with chips for the same woman. No sales for the restaurant!

They spotted Maria, a waitress there for ten years. The man at the bar asked about the soup and what was in it. She was very knowledgeable about the menu. As they spotted the chef sitting with customers for a long time. A difficult customer was sent in to test the chef’s temper. She stated that she was a vegetarian and wanted to make sure the same grill was not used with meat. He acted annoyed at her questioning and then walked away from her.

Willie blamed Arne more than the staff, because they have picked up his complacent attitude. So Arne went in to gather the staff before the dinner service, and Willie arrived shortly thereafter.

Willie then came to see the staff. The staff will filled with excuses, just like the owner. Change needed to happen here. They were afraid of overselling, but now they know that by being excited about the menu, they will bring in more customers.

Willie went into the kitchen with Pasquale to give him some tips to make a great lunch menu. He brought a new excitement to the kitchen and the chef. He came up with three lunch specials, and when Willie showed them to the two waiters, Jairo and Osley, they could not even recall one to a woman Willie sent in.

Willie then designated Laura to be the bartender, but he found out that she is also a nurse and is tired of working so hard and will be happy to stay behind the bar.

After six weeks, Willie returned to the Division Street Grill. He was met by a hostess, who was very pleasant. He asked for Arne, who was in the front of the house. Laura had a bar full of people and a smile on her face. When he saw Osley, he had a sense of humor and in the kitchen, he saw a new Pasquale.

Thanks to Willie and his staff on "Restaurant Stakeout," the sales were up; tips were much better for the staff, and the owner looks forward to the next fifteen years of good food and service.

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