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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

October 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Seattle Menchie’s featured on ‘Undercover Boss’

Photo courtesy of Studio Lambert

Photo courtesy of Studio Lambert

Did the guy cleaning the frozen yogurt machine at the Queen Anne Menchie’s store look familiar? Maybe regular Forbes readers would know that the kid in the baseball cap and mint-green company uniform was actually 30-something CEO Amit Kleinberger, working the line for an Undercover Boss episode scheduled to air Friday, Oct. 25. In this preview, he’s shown pulling on a puffy, full-body mascot uniform and being directed to dance with youngsters at a party in one of the build-your-own-yogurt-and-toppings franchises.

Kleinberger said in a phone interview Wednesday that he had been curious to see what made stores in particular regions of the country perform at different levels. Seattle made the cut because of its high sales. “Seattle is actually among my top performing markets in the world, not just the U.S.,” he said. We are, as he put it, “an advanced, progressive market when it comes to frozen desserts.”

Was he worried about the potential for embarrassment before a national audience when he agreed to go on Undercover Boss? This is a show, after all, where participants occasionally get some unpleasant surprises.

Kleinberger said no. “I am who I am…

“I have confidence in my team, I have confidence in my franchisees, I have confidence in my stores, and I love my guests around the country and I didn’t see any reason for concern at all.”

He couldn’t go into specifics before the show aired about what he found, but said he’ll make some changes after the experience — improving employee recognition programs, for one, and adding “some things that guests were asking about” like new flavors. On a personal level, he said, the biggest change is that he vowed to be back in a store every month, “really seeing” what happens there. With more than 350 branches, it’s not a perspective he often gets.

“I really enjoyed being in the stores, and I’ve learned how much I missed it.”

Presumably, he can stick to the 3-piece suit next time.

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