March 01, 2010 12:19 AM by Nancy Floyd
On an all-new episode ofÂ Undercover Boss onÂ CBS, viewers are taken behind-the-scenes at Americaâ€™s oldest fast food company, White Castle. Dave Rife, owner of White Castle, goes undercover in his own company and faces such immense challenges as putting cheese on burgers, putting buns in boxes, and straightening sliders on a conveyer belt and he manages to botch it up big timeâ€¦
Dave Rife is the owner of White Castle, a hamburger restaurant started 88 years ago by his great-grandfather. On tonightâ€™s episode ofÂ Undercover Boss, Dave is going to get a glimpse at what life is like for the blue collared folks that work in some of his 421 restaurants. A quick opener gives us a little background info on Dave. Heâ€™s a father of two sons and the husband to wife, Lynn. Lynn reminisces about their early dates when Dave used to take her to White Castle. Wow. How big of a cheapskate is this guy? Not only does he take her to a fast food restaurant that sells mini burgers for a few cents, but he takes her to the one his family owns and operates. Classy. Apparently, Dave has moved up in life as evidenced by his fancy red sports car and him uttering the most clichÃ© rich-guy sentence ever: â€œI have a lot of toys.â€ Awesome.
Dave also shares a bit of his personal struggle with viewers ofÂ Undercover Boss. What Iâ€™m about to tell you might shock you: Dave used to be overweight. Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb here and say that White Castle may have factored into that. Dave was 271 pounds at one point (popping one too many mini-burgers, I see) but has lost 80 pounds and heâ€™s strong now. Now heâ€™s in a gym proving how strong he is. Did I accidentally turn on The Biggest Loser?
Ok, onto theÂ Undercover Boss assignment. Daveâ€™s first job is at a new White Castle restaurant in Hamilton, Ohio. Geenie is the storeâ€™s general manager who doesnâ€™t seem to know any of her employeesâ€™ names. Donna is the White Castle veteran who will be training Dave today. She lets him know upfront that he will not be able to comprehend all of this in one day. It doesnâ€™t take long for us to see what she means. For example, how does one clean tables at the White Castle? Donna explains it like so: Spray the table, wipe it with a towel. Next up, packing the burgers. How does that work? Donna explains it like so: Put the burger in a box, close the box. Wow. My mind was just blown. Thereâ€™s no way Dave is going to comprehend all this in one day. Donna was right.
A little one-on-one time between Donna and Dave enlightens us that Donna had a heart attack. In her medically astute assessment, the heart attack was caused by eating food. White Castle perhaps?
The next job for Dave as theÂ Undercover Boss is to work in a White Castle bakery in Indiana. Dave will be working with Steve, the production manager, and learning how to bag the buns. Basically, the machine does all the work, Dave just needs to put his hand on top of the bag. This proves to be too difficult for the guy running the company and over the course of his shift, he ends up ruining 4800 buns. The good news is that the hogs in Indiana will be well-fed tonight.
Daveâ€™s next task as theÂ Undercover Boss is working at another White Castle restaurant, this time in Kentucky. Dave will be working with Darlene on the grill. This job includes more tough tasks for Dave like placing a piece of cheese and one pickle on each burger. Darlene, the little rebel that she is, tries to teach Dave a shortcut which violates proper White Castle procedure. Really?!? Thereâ€™s a proper procedure for laying one piece of cheese and one pickle on a mini burger? Fascinating. Tina, the storeâ€™s assistant general manager, pulls Dave aside and warns him against picking up any bad habits. Apparently, Big Brother is always watching and Dave could get fired at any time. Tina fears for her job daily. What exactly is Tina doing wrong that she would worry about getting fired every single day??
That night, Dave works the evening rush between 10pm and 3am. Since White Castle is open 24 hours, Dave explains that itâ€™s an â€œoasisâ€ for late-night customers. Sure, Dave, it’s an oasis, if by oasis you mean a place that drunk folks can get their fill of greasy goodness on their way home from the bar. During the late-night rush, Dave works alongside Joe in the drive-thru. Joe is a friendly, upbeat guy who genuinely seems to like his job. A heart-to-heart with Dave shows us that thereâ€™s more to Joe than meets the eye. Joe has a little boy who is visually impaired and he has to work extra hard to provide for his whole family. Iâ€™m finding it rather suspicious that every employee onÂ Undercover Boss a) has a heartbreaking sob story and b) has absolutely no qualms sharing it with a complete stranger who is being followed by a camera crew. Interesting.
Daveâ€™s fourth job onÂ Undercover Boss is at a White Castle in Chicago where he meets Jose. Jose has dreams of becoming a gourmet chef and opening his own restaurant. What better place to learn the ways of fine dining than White Castle, right? Jose has even brought one of his culinary creations to share with Dave: a homemade salsa that apparently tastes great on the burgers. Iâ€™m guessing anything that disguises the taste of those little burgers is probably considered fantastic.
Daveâ€™s fifth and final job is at the Frozen Foods factory in Kentucky. Brenda, the assistant supervisor, hands Dave an apron and hairnet and then promptly rebukes him for being late. Awesome. Dave works alongside Vicky on the conveyer belt and surprisingly enough screws everything up. Vicky has been with the company for eight years but is unhappy with the work ethic of the supervisors. Next, Dave works with Bonita along a conveyer belt straightening cheese on the burgers. This segment of the show guarantees that I will never eat at White Castle. Ever. Processed square burgers that are made on a conveyer belt days before theyâ€™re ever consumed are just not my style. Despite the fact that Daveâ€™s only job is to make sure the cheese is straight, he still manages to screw it up. Itâ€™s a good thing this guy has a job that was given to him by his family because Iâ€™m pretty convinced he has absolutely no viable skills.
Now itâ€™s time for the big reveal! Dave makes his true identity known to the employees he’s worked with all week. Dave recognizes how many people depend on Donna. Because of her story, he wants to start a wellness program to make White Castle a healthier and better company for its employees. Jose inspired Dave so in return Dave would like to introduce him to the White Castle culinary team and give him a $5,000 scholarship to the college of his choice. Dave wants Brenda and Vicky to learn to work together. Neither one seems thrilled about this idea but they quickly agree. What else are they going to do when sitting across from the companyâ€™s owner? Lastly, Dave thinks Joe is the epitome of what White Castle wants in their employees. Dave wants to create a program called â€œleaders for tomorrowâ€ and wants Joe to help write the curriculum and be a part of the first class. Dave is also giving Joe $5,000 for needs for his son.
At the company-wide event, Dave shows a highlight reel of his time on the road while everyone cheers him on. Heâ€™s confident that his experience withÂ Undercover Boss has changed him and he thinks White Castle will be around for another 88 years at least. Long live the mini cheeseburger!
Tune in toÂ Undercover Boss in two weeks for a new episode when the CLO of Churchill Downs goes undercover in his own company.
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Photo Courtesy of CBS