Review: Mystery Diners
This week Food Network debuted a new pilot called Mystery Diners. A pub owner in Los Angeles suspects that one of her bartenders might be over-pouring for customers, giving away too many free drinks and over-tipping himself. To find out, she calls in the Mystery Diners, who outfit the bar with hidden cameras and go in undercover to see what is really happening when the boss is away.
The show is in the same vein as Restaurant: Impossible and the new hit Chef Hunter in that a restaurant has a problem so Food Network swoops in to lend a hand. Rather than being a makeover or intense job interview type show, Mystery Diners helps restauranteurs who fear they are being ripped off by their staff. Using the latest in technology they show several instances where hidden cameras capture employees, providing poor customer service, theft and inappropriate behavior while on-duty.
The stings are conducted by the staff at BES (Business Evaluation Services) who are headquartered in Arroyo Grande, CA. BES provides full-service secret shopper evaluation designed for businesses by a network of professionals. They evaluate a variety of customer experiences generating vital information necessary to quickly and effectively spot areas of superior performance and areas in need of special consideration.
Mystery Diners combines key elements of feel-good shows like Restaurant: Impossible with gotcha shows like To Catch a Predator. It also helps demonstrate why 50% of new restaurants fail within two years. Pure, unbridled thievery.
I love this concept. I genuinely hope Food Network picks it up. The restaurant industry needs this show to be a hit. Just knowing that you might be exposed as a thief on national television would surely put a dent in the rampant pilferage of today’s restaurant employees and their “Occupy Wall Street” sense of entitlement.
UPDATE: Mystery Diners has been picked up by Food Network. The first season premieres May 25th with a sneak peek on May 20th.