There are plenty of Food Network fans out there and last night, Sunday, there was a sneak peek of a new show called Restaurant Stakeout. A local business is in the premiere episode this Wednesday, March 14 at 10 p.m. on the Food Network.
Bardonia’s is hosting a premiere celebration at 9 p.m. that’s open to the public and then the episode will be shown on the businesses many flat screen TVs.
Owned by Mike Solicito, Lexington caters to the late night crowd and is known for its friendly service, live entertainment and after midnight drink specials all summer long.
Hosting Restaurant Stakeout is Willie Degel, who runs a tight ship at his restaurants, according to FoodNetwork.com. In the show, he’ll apply his secret, which uses cameras to canvass every inch of the restaurant in to keep a close eye on the floor, staff and patrons.
Solicito and Manager Carmen Zambardino met with Patch to share his experience with in doing this show.
“Someone from the network ate here and they knew that Food Network was going to do this show, so they brought us up to the network,” Solicito, who is a teacher by day and also owns a few other Nyack businesses.
Zambardino said that the initial meeting was in the fall last year.
“Friend of mine knew one of the people from the production company and knew that they wanted to do it with a place outside of Manhattan,” she said. “The three of us met (Solicito , herself and her friend) and took pictures of the inside and I described my staff and their personalities.”
In the show, Degel looks to find and rectify the hidden problems that lie within establishments using hidden cameras.
“They’re looking for restaurants that are doing well, but might need some tweaking with the staff. When the cat’s away, the mice will play,” she said. “There’s always room for improvement, especially if a professional will come in and offer their insight.”
Food Network then came in to check out the staff.
“They set up shop and recorded interviews (of) me and the staff,” said Solicito.
“They screen tested employees to see how each person would look on camera and their personalities,” said Zambardino. “A lot of our staff are very bubbly and happy people. The network loved us and we got top pick.”
Solicito said that Food Network interviewed 10 restaurants and theirs came in as the No. 1 choice.
“They must have seen something that interested them,” he said. “The next phase was to get people on board and to sign releases.”
“They had to set up wires and cameras all over,” said Solicito. “They drilled holes in the walls to snake the wires through.”
He added that because of copyright issues, the network also had to cover up beer taps and take down art.
“They did all of it and put it all back. I didn’t have to do a thing,” he said. “After, they patched up the holes. It was very professional.”
Filming took place from a Tuesday to a Friday.
“They rented out the boutique next door for four days. I was watching behind the scenes in the next door business,” said Solicito. “One day they had a lot of extras, including my sister-in-law. They were paid to be annoying.”
He said that some of the things he had to do for the show was have a meeting with the staff, introduce the celebrity host by the entrance and again in the kitchen.
“It was a great experience and I got a good taste of the television industry and got to see what goes on behind the scenes,” said Solicito. “I’m curious to see how it turns out.”
“There was some quirky interesting chaos,” said Zambardino. “This place has been here for eight years. We’re one big family here and we’re true to life, fun. I try to keep things lively and happy here. People come back because they enjoy the staff and food.”
“It’s like a great one hour of advertising,” said Solicito.
Zambardino added that they’re the pilot of the 5-episode series and that if ratings do well, the network will do eight Restaurant Stakeouts.
“The network also took the name and number of a few of our outgoing people and talked about a possible follow up,” she said.
Both added that the experience was a lot of fun and unique.
The show premieres at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar 14. Lexington is hosting an open premiere episode party at 9 p.m. that night.