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Restaurant Buffets May Never Be The Same Again

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Restaurant Buffets May Never Be The Same Again

The concept of an all-you-can-eat buffet could be among the first casualties of the coronavirus in the restaurant sector.

What Happened

The U.S. federal government is recommending that restaurants no longer offer self-service options and specifically highlights buffets that make use of "common utensils or dispensers," according to Restaurant Business. These recommendations from a practical standpoint make it clear that a buffet would violate the regulations.

From a consumer perspective, many are likely to be afraid to be within close proximity of strangers and gathering food from communal trays.

Why It's Important

Some buffets have tried to adapt to better deal with the environment to varying degrees of success, according to Restaurant Business.

Pizza Inn, for example, offered a contactless buffet-to-go option, and sales rose 17% in the week after it was launched.

Golden Corral, on the other hand, attempted to shift toward a takeout model in early March but ended up closing all but "some" of its 454 franchised locations by the end of the month.

What's Next

Some experts and media outlets had predicted over the years the buffet model is unlikely to survive the test of time. While it is too early to declare the buffet to be the first major casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, one would assume they won't reopen in their current form in the near-term — if ever.

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