Willie Degel's Insider Tips for Dining Out Like a Pro

On Restaurant Stakeout, Willie Degel offers expert advice on management and customer service to struggling eateries, with the help of hidden cameras.

Here for the first time, Willie turns the tables to share his tips for diners on how to choose the right restaurant, how to order the right dishes and how to help the restaurant deliver the best possible dining experience every time.

  • With the Internet, it’s easy to be an educated customer. Know as much as you can before you walk in the door.
 
  • Tell restaurants exactly what you want. The staff are not mind readers — if you want a specific table, ask for it. You need to be proactive, not reactive. You’re not hurting anyone’s feelings.
 
  • How a restaurant maintains their storefront and represents their brand to the public is one of the most important things. Check the bathrooms. If the bathrooms are clean, you know the kitchens are clean as well.
 
  • A good restaurant’s menu should be short and simple. You want to know what the product is. If the menu looks like a Bible, run away.
 
  • Dining out with kids? Plan ahead. My daughter, she’s got a little bag she takes. My son takes a book, he likes to read. We do all these little things to keep them active, which helps make the experience a little better.
 
  • Order the kids’ food first. If we order an appetizer, we order the kids’ entrées at the same time.
 
  • If we order dessert, we say “have the check ready for us” so we can make a quick exit if the kids get restless.

    Check back later this season for more of Willie’s tips.

    Looking for a great restaurant in your area? Check out Food Network On the Road for links to restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and other hit Food Network shows.