Check out Paul Damico, president of Atlanta-based Moe's Southwest Grill, on CBS's "Undercover Boss" tonight.
This is the fourth Atlanta-based company featured on the show to date and the second this season after Cinnabon president Kat Cole.
The show airs tonight, January 18, at 8 p.m.
The question: how many times will you hear the phrase "Welcome to Moe's" uttered on the program?
For Damico, the more the merrier.
He said he was approached season one to do the show but he had just joined Moe's and didn't feel comfortable to do it then. But four years in, he felt he could handle it.
Moe's is growing quickly, mostly in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic but is spreading to the Midwest. They now have 439 locations, including 79 in Georgia. They hope to open 74 new stores this year.
The cover story for his "undercover" act was a failed restaurateur who is seeking redemption by seeking the advice of Moe's employees who will help decide if he's worthy of $100,000 to open his own business. The cover also included a show hostess to throw people off the scent that this was "Undercover Boss," now in its fourth season on CBS.
Damico donned a faux hawk on his head, sideburns, facial hair and fake tattoos of knives and skullbones to disguise himself. He even picked a very generic fake name: Mark Richards. "I looked 10-15 years younger," he said, noting that given his bald pate, he hadn't needed to use a hair dryer in 20 years. He said it was tough at times to pretend to be someone else. "People would say, 'I love your tats.' I don't know a thing about tattoos. I had to come up with stories about them." At one point, he accidentally starts calling himself by his real name and ended up blurting out "Paul Mark."
He didn't visit any franchisees in Atlanta to reduce risk of being noticed. Instead, he visited Nashville, Columbia, S.C., Fort Myers, Fla. and Charleston, S.C.
How ingrained is the "Welcome to Moe's" yell in the employees' DNA? They'd get on his case for not saying it enough.
Why take the risk to look foolish? "This is good brand awareness," he said. "This March, we area launching our first national commercials so the timing of this is real good." At the same time, "You really put yourself out there on a very personal level."
Here are entries I wrote about the previous three Atlanta-based companies: