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3 Types of Buffets You Can Bank On

Buffets are popular all across the US, from the all-you-can-eat allure of American fare in the middle of Iowa to the bring-it-to-you dim sum style that you’ll see in some Asian restaurants.  As a restaurant owner, it’s always good to have some tricks up your sleeve for your buffet customers.  That will keep them coming back to see what’s going on over time. You’ll see that done, for example, in Hell’s Kitchen (the cooking competition reality show) where Gordon Ramsay will mix it up with different styles of cooking. Here’s some things to try:

The All You Can Eat Buffet

Customers are asked to pay up front for this buffet.  Usually, it’s a standard fee that sometimes includes all you can drink sodas.  We’ve seen these buffets as small as 10 items and as large as 150 items.  Some restaurants choose to do this style as a hybrid – for lunch they have a buffet, for dinner there’s a menu.

There are several keys to running a successful all you can eat buffet, but the primary one is that you do everything you can to have fresh food that tastes good on your menu.

The Dim Sum Buffet

Served in a different style, the food is pre-plated and the waitstaff comes to you with their wares.  When you choose a plate, it is marked on a sheet as either small, medium, or large.  You pay at the end for these pre-plated masterpieces.

This type of buffet style would work well for a corporate event, as well.  There is still that freedom of choice, but the items that you have are more limited.  We haven’t seen more than 20 items at dim sum.

Homestyle Buffet

This is great for large numbers of people who need to be quickly served.  It’s somewhere between dim sum and the traditional all you can eat buffets.  This works well for those corporate outings, as well as weddings and other events.

Serving bowls and plates of food are placed directly onto the table (this is where having a lazy susan comes in handy) and customers are encouraged to take what they want, just like they were at home with their family.  With a limited number of dishes, people are prone to eat more… and it is incredibly easy to set up for those who run a traditional style restaurant.

Thali Style

This is an excellent choice of buffet for those chefs who feel like making only a few items.  Customers pay a set price for a number of courses, but instead of having the choice of what’s in their meal, the chef makes all of the decisions.

In the few thali style restaurants that we’ve been to, the entrée is served, then carts are brought around with the side items and other items.  While this is derived from the Indian style, other cuisines are more than welcome.

That buffet touch might be just what is needed for the holiday season this year.  A buffet style can be run with any cuisine, and it has the possibility of helping your restaurant flourish.

Thanks go out to Michael Coghlan on Flickr for the Creative Commons use of the picture.

2014-12-11 00:00:00
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