All-you-can-eat your heart out: Buffets are back

The pandemic almost put buffets in a grave, but they’re back to being a gravy train.

If you’ve ever found yourself inexplicably clutching a plate piled high with crab legs, freshly cut sirloin, lo mein, and a miniature cheesecake, you might be familiar with all-you-can-eat buffets.


Buffets are both glorious and a little gross, and, per The New York Times, they are very much back.

Warm up those heat lamps

The communal dining style took a hit during the pandemic, when food left vulnerable to strangers’ sneezes suddenly became undesirable.

But the pull of bottomless fried things is strong, and Americans are back in the all-you-can-eat saddle:

  • Visits to leading buffet brands Golden Corral, Cicis, and Pizza Ranch were up 125% this March compared to January 2021.
  • Inflation and rising food costs have pushed price-conscious consumers to prioritize value, according to analysts.
  • Even luxury Las Vegas options, like Caesars Palace and the Bellagio, are seeing increased demand for upscale, pricey smorgasbords.

Buffets also tug at the heart strings of nostalgic Gen X and millennial customers who grew up attending birthday parties at Pizza Hut and their local Chinese buffet.

The buffet is not only back…

… It’s better than ever. The restaurants that survived the pandemic have become more nimble, using tech to track consumer habits, anticipate needs, and minimize waste, per NYT.

Speaking of staying nimble at the buffet, a tip: Focus on high-value foods and avoid filler carbs that’ll only slow you down.

(A Ziploc baggie in a coat pocket goes a long way, but you didn’t hear that from us.)

Topics: Restaurants

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