Columns

5 Places That Should Adopt Buffet-Style Service

2008-11-20_Golden_Corral_in_Durham

Buffets make no fucking sense. Seriously, how is it that a certain type of food that usually costs a certain amount of money for a finite portion, only costs a few bucks more for literally as much as you can fit inside your stupid body? I actually happen to love buffets, so I should probably keep my investigative questions to myself to prevent all the buffet owners who read my stuff from taking a second look at their balance sheets and changing their minds. Anyway, the buffet is one of the most American things going right now, and I think we need more of them. No, not another Chinese buffet (although one next to my apartment would be nice). I’m talking about doing some serious crossover, and bringing the “all you can [blank]” mentality into other areas in our lives.

1. Bars

Have you ever been to a wedding reception with an open bar that didn’t turn into an awesome night? Listen, bar owners, I know this idea worries you. You have to deal with crowds of drunk idiots causing problems already without having the taps on auto-pour. But hear me out. What’s the key to attracting good crowds (i.e. making money)? Women. You get everyone to come to your bar if that’s where all the single ladies go. And how do you get women to choose your place? Offer unlimited booze, because they’re normal human beings (allegedly). Having a place where the beer flows like wine is WHY the women flock like the salmon of Capistrano. Is there a chance you’ll go broke when all the alcoholics show up to drink as much as they possibly can? Maybe. But think about it. If you can figure out the perfect tippy top of the bell curve price for an average bar tab, and then maybe add a couple of bucks on top for the fuck of it, and just say “give us this amount of money, and all the booze is yours until last call,” you might just be on to something. Cash tips, and upcharge for good liquor. Seriously, why am I giving this advice away for free?

2. Movie theaters

If you didn’t pull the old “hop into another theater right after the movie you paid for lets out” double feature move at some point growing up (or last week), then I’m not sure we can be friends. It’s sort of a rite of passage for young, budding cinephiles to figure out creative ways to see movies for free. But what movie theaters are really fucking up is that they aren’t taking advantage of the, “I have no money, but lots of time” market. There are days when I’d love nothing more than to show up to a theater in the early afternoon, plop a set amount of ducats on the table, and then see every movie I possibly can before the place shuts down. If you didn’t know already, the main way that movie theaters make money isn’t from ticket sales, it’s from concessions. See, the vast majority of the coin flowing in on ticket sales goes right back to the movie studio. That’s why movie theater popcorn costs more per ounce than filet mignon (that’s not hyperbole, fucking Google it). So the theater is really incentivized to keep a captive audience for as long as they can, because you know what time causes? Hunger and thirst. There’s only one rule in buffets: once you leave, the party’s over. So as long as that person who paid for a day pass is in your theater, they can’t peace out to go grab a quick burg before they hop into Transformers 8: Autobots vs. Nazis.* So add a few entrees to your concession menu, and pow, you’ve just created a new revenue stream. Hell, put the food court INSIDE the theater. Applebees appetizers and a quick beer before your next showing? Please and thank you.

*Dear Michael Bay, that was not a joke, please make that movie.

3. Strip clubs

Don’t even bother starting your comment, I’m well aware that the strip club industry has already made lots of dough off of having actual buffets within their establishments. Hell, some of the best buffets I’ve ever had have been in gentlemen’s clubs. But they need to step their buffet game up. If you’re gonna offer it in the food-area, you might as well expand it to the knockers and G-strings too. There’s already a cover charge at most strip clubs, which they obviously like to keep low so that the guy who doesn’t really want to go to the club can be talked into it by his jackass friends (“Bro, it’s only ten bucks. You might as well.”) But what if you want to attract the connoisseurs? You might as well have a night where you say, “Give us a couple hundo at the door, and all the booze, lap dances, and filet mignons that have sat in a stainless steel food warming tray for six hours can be yours for the duration of your stay.” Try it out, and let me know how it goes.

4. Coffee shops

Oh wait. Your average American diner already offers bottomless coffee refills. Stop going to Starbucks, and hit up your local greasy spoon, people.

5. More types of food

Look, I lied earlier. I actually totally understand the general principles behind buffets. Certain types of food are just more economically suited for “eat as much as you want.” It’s all about scalability, people. If you can make ten pounds of lo mein for a small increase in the labor cost associated with making, say, two pounds, then you might as well. But it still frustrates me that some types of food are rarely used in conjunction with the buffet philosophy (which, coincidentally, is the working title of my memoir). Chinese, pizza, and Americana are common. Indian and Persian you’ll see every now and then, depending on where you live (although I’ve been pretty let down by the actual selection at the ones I’ve attended). But I need more Italian, Mexican, and Mediterranean food buffets. I realize they exist, but I want more of them. And sandwiches. Holy shit! Think about a buffet with every kind of bread, meat, cheese, veggies, and condiment you can imagine just laid out in front of you. As if Jared himself brought you into the Subway design labs after hours, turned to you, and said, “Welcome home, son.”

What does that do, does that blow your mind?

Email this to a friend

Randall J. Knox

Randall J. Knox (known colloquially to his friends as "Knox") left his native Texas a few years ago, and moved to Los Angeles in his '03 Buick Regal named LeRoi to write movies with his jackass college buddies. His favorite things in life include bourbon that's above his pay grade, mix CDs, and Kevin Costner films. He isn't sure what "dad jeans" are exactly, but he knows he wants a pair.

6 Comments You must log in to comment, or create an account
Show Comments

For More Photos and Content

Latest podcasts

Download Our App

Take PGP with you. Get

New Stories

Load More