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Wedo, Buffets CEO, is on 'Undercover Boss' Friday

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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Anthony Wedo, CEO at Buffets, Inc. is personally committed to families.

CBS Photo submtted

Anthony Wedo, CEO at Buffets, Inc. is personally committed to families.



Enlarge photo

Anthony Wedo, as “Mike Davis,” worked a variety of jobs alongside servers, grill cooks, managers, and cashiers.

CBS Photo submitted

Anthony Wedo, as “Mike Davis,” worked a variety of jobs alongside servers, grill cooks, managers, and cashiers.

Anthony Wedo, CEO of Buffets, Inc., headquartered in Greer, learned a powerful lesson filming “Undercover Boss”, which will be televised on CBS this Friday.

“I am personally committed to families,” Wedo said. “I’ll tell you what “Undercover Boss” did for me. I knew we had certain issues out there, so I was excited to do the various jobs that I did in ‘Undercover Boss.’

“What I really learned was how families were struggling. And it’s incredibly powerful.  These are incredibly hard working American people who can’t make it. They can’t make their bills,” Wedo said. “Filming ‘Undercover Boss’ showed me how desperate some of these families are, what condition they are in.”

Wedo went undercover as “Mike Davis,” in several of his Hometown Buffet, Old Country Buffet and Ryan’s restaurants, where he worked a variety of jobs alongside servers, grill cooks, managers, and cashiers. The filming included a corporate meeting in Greer, a large part took place in Denver – it’s test site – and stops were made in Fresno, Calif., and two Louisiana cities.

Wedo wore a disguise he said, make him look like a “left-over 70s rocker.” Once “Mike Davis” arrived he stayed in character throughout the filming. That included a wig that was adhered to his head and was never taken off until the end of filming, despite it being uncomfortable.

As a new CEO embarking on a reinvention of the brands, Wedo went undercover because he wanted to get behind the scenes to gain an unvarnished view of what is really going on in the restaurants. What he got was far more.

Wedo’s leadership principles are focused on people never giving up. “No matter how dark it gets never give up,” he said.

Wedo listened to associates stories and some were gut wrenching.

“There’s a young girl on the show named Shelley. She’s 18 years old. She quit high school to attend to her mother dying with terminal cancer,” Wedo said. “Her mother finally passes. Her father immediately kicks her and her brothers out of the house. He takes all the insurance money her mother left and puts them on the street. And (Shelley) still shows up to work with a smile on her face.”

Wedo said he had to reach deep within his soul to find the words to best describe what he was feeling. “It made me come up with this line – ‘I am compelled to help those with many worries but few complaints.’

“It really struck me in the heart and these are people who won’t give up. I gave them gifts that hopefully changed their lives.   Shelley got a little necklace that was inscribed, “Never, never, ever give up.”

A grill cook showed Wedo his method of grilling customers’ meat requests perfectly. That is being adapted for the entire Buffets’ stores.

Wedo had such a difficult time learn the cash register’s Point of Sale (POS) system that he is investing over $3 million in a new one. And the person who worked with Wedo on the new POS system? She is in the company’s training film.

Buffets operates 343 restaurants in 35 states, 333 steak-buffet restaurants and 10 Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse restaurants. Buffets’ brands are Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Ryan’s and Fire Mountain. The company has about 180,000 employees.

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Ovation Brands

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