How All You Can Eat Restaurants Make Money

How All You Can Eat Restaurants Make Money


– It’s all-you-can-eat
pancake time at IHOP. – Endless shrimp is back at Red Lobster. – all-you-can-eat of this for $6.99? – [Narrator] Unlimited food. These restaurants give you all-you-can-eat for one fixed price. Sounds like a pretty good deal, but how do these
restaurants make any money? The way buffets typically work
is each person pays the same fixed price for access to a
line of self-serve dishes. You grab a plate, fill it
with food, eat, and repeat. As many times as you want. – This started in the 70s and the 80s, and they were very popular. I think it was kind of sign-of-the-time. They were a family style restaurant, they did not serve alcohol, but it was a lot of food
for not a lot of money. – [Narrator] Popular chain
restaurants that use this model are Golden Corral, and Home Town Buffet. Other all-you-can-eat
buffets specialize in one type of cuisine, like
Chinese food, Indian food, or different types of pizza. The most obvious money saver
for a buffet restaurant is there’s less need for servers. – They don’t need full
wait staff because you’re getting your own food and
bringing it to the table. – [Narrator] But these
restaurants apply another strategy that’s hidden in plain sight. Pay attention to the
layout of a buffet line. Buffets often put cheaper,
or more filling carbs towards the beginning of the line. – They would have a lot
more menu items that had good profit margins on them. Then all of the sides and the
carbs came before the entree so that by the time you got your entree, your plate was full. – [Narrator] And to try
and stop people from taking more than they can eat, these
restaurants might provide smaller than average dinner plates. Or really big soft-drink cups,
so you can fill up on soda. But that doesn’t always stop people from piling it up vertically. Or going back for another plate – [Garfield] This will be as an appetizer. – [Narrator] So some buffets
may cut corners in other ways to make sure they aren’t
losing a bunch of money. – Because of the tight profit
margins, the food quality wasn’t as great as it
probably should have been or could have been. – [Narrator] Riggs says this
contributed to their decline. Between 1998 and 2017, the
number of all-you-can-eat buffets dropped by 26 percent. Even though the number
of restaurants overall rose by 22 percent. Part of the reason for
the decline in buffets, was the expansion of
casual dining restaurants like Applebee’s, TGI
Fridays, Olive Garden, and Outback Steakhouse. This is the type of restaurant
that typically offers all-you-can-eat specials
on particular items. – For example, you take Red Lobster, they will have their
all-you-can-eat shrimp. They’re not inexpensive
and consumers like those and they think they’re getting
a good value for the money. They’re around for about six weeks, so there’s a sense of
urgency that’s created. – [Announcer] But hurry, endless
shrimp won’t be here long. – The hope is that once consumers
get inside the restaurant, they will add more things, they’ll try, they’ll be
satisfied, and will return. Because the only way you’re
going to drive your business in the restaurant industry today is through building loyalty. – [Narrator] With just a few tricks, like using smaller plates,
putting cheap items towards the front, and using
drinks to off-set other costs, all-you-can-eat restaurants
are able to accomplish the same goal as any other restaurant. Get people in the door.

100 Comments

  1. My family likes to eat at buffets but were not really big eaters. We just like the variety but I do go for the expensive stuff.

  2. There’s an Asian buffet tht has a lot of good options but I always get diarrhea after I eat, I’m here right now

  3. I don't like going to buffets because they either undercook or overcook the food. Also the ones I seen that have a grill are nasty and haven't been cleaned in a while. What I find funny is that there is a planet fitness next to a buffet.

  4. My all you can eat Chinese restaurant hated me when they had hot shrimp and crab legs. I wiped that shit out

    They stopped doing it lol

  5. High carb = quick filling to the toilet.

    '' Get people in the door''- my response : more like get stuck leaving out the door

  6. this was very informative and pretty accurate. however for the last 15 years red lobster endless shrimp promotion lasts 12 weeks and not 6. this is a response to popular demand. in turn the restaurant has raised the endless shrimp meal price from 14.99 to 17.99 in this time period. interviews from management regarding the topic claim that even with the somewhat steep buffet price red lobster loses a lot of money during endless shrimp and the only real reason they participate in the promotion is primarily to drastically increase their guest count over those 3 months.

  7. Short video but very interesting. My hometown area is famous for their Chinese buffets. Some are hit and miss. Never thought about the plate thing though.

  8. I once got asked to leave from a buffet for eating too many crab legs. Shame I didn’t know back then you can charge back on your credit card

  9. It would be nice that homeless people get some sort of membership for buffe correct me if i spelled anything wrong

  10. Good luck getting your red lobster waitress to come back sooner than every 25 minutes to bring you 5 more shrimp in the all you can eat. Lmao

  11. Most are low quality food. Think of bulk packaged grade-c frozen foods. Ugh, some of them have fresh salads to mask the poor quality elsewhere so salads might be your best bet.

  12. I remember when i went to "All You Can Eat" Restaurant, me and my whole family member decided to not take any Carbo Food that make us Filled fast.. And No Soda as well..

  13. actually. with me buffet is the thing give me the feeling that i can eat literally anything i want. and i usually stop after 2-3 plates. come on man we re going to spend money anyway when you decide to go out and eat, why would you try to take advantage against restaurant and make you uncomfortable with a beyond full stomach. so nonsense

  14. I got all you could eat pancakes, costed 7.99. I thought it was a good deal. I ate 8 pancakes and then realized I paid $1 for each pancake.

  15. Smaller plates just means more trips and encourages me to try a little of everything, minus the rice and noodles, they aint stopping shit lol

  16. They actually dont save that much cutting back on servers since the servers only make a little over $2 an hour

  17. In all you can eat in my country they serve food at your table that you choose from the menù…you pay for the drink. So I can't really relate to this video.

  18. The reason I never go to “ all you can eat “ is bcoz I I have a small appetite. I don’t wanna pay more and eat less .

  19. I miss Souper Salad. I used to go there with my family after church on sundays. I was always forced to say I was 8.

  20. Where I live the only fast food we have is Mc donalds🍔🍟, Burger king🍔🍟Subway🥪🥪 and KFC 🍗🍗🍟I've never had any others ☹

  21. I used to work at a big buffet, and my biggest pet peeve there were customers who couldn't control their boisterous children. I wanted to remind them that employees were there to prepare food and clean the rooms, and NOT to babysit, but then I ran the risk of getting fired for that. The customer isn't king. They should realize that they are on equal footing with the employees, like in many parts of Europe.

  22. And some people eat way more than what they pay for but probably most people eat less than what they have actually paid for

  23. The main issue with these places is that they are often a cross-contamination nightmare, so they aren't always a good idea for people with food intolerances or allergies.

  24. Did you know that there are KFC Buffets? They are quite rare, as they have been disappearing since the 90's. It's essentially all of the KFC menu in a buffet. They also include some items that aren't on the regular menu. It gets mixed reviews, but is still cool to see. I saw one yesterday in the Williamsburg area and I thought it was really cool.

  25. OVER HERE WE HAVE ALL YOU CAN EAT RESTAURANTS TOO.BUT MORE EXPENSIVE PLUS THERE IS A TIME LIMIT.ITS 31,95 FOR 2 HOURS.BUT I MUST SAY ITS DIFFERENT .ITS LIKE ALL SORTS OF MINI RESTAURANTS IN ONE BIG BUILDING.NOT TO BIG SO YOU DONT HAVE TO WALK ALOT.THE QUALITY IS GOOD ALTHOUGH SOMETIMES THE FOOD ISNT REALLY HOT.BUT THEY OFFER ALL SORTS OF FOOD.EVEN HAD OISTERS ONCE.EACH TIME IM AMAZED AT WHAT VARIETY OF FOOD THEY HAVE.

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