The Real Reason You Don’t See Many Old Country Buffets Anymore

The Real Reason You Don’t See Many Old Country Buffets Anymore


Old Country Buffet has been an American strip
mall staple for years. But despite the promise of delicious cheese
biscuits awaiting you behind those ubiquitous red letters, Old Country Buffet has definitely
had some setbacks. And we’re not just talking about broken froyo
machines at the lunch rush. In 2006, Old Country Buffet’s parent company
merged with Ryan’s Restaurant Group to create the country’s largest buffet chain. But it turned out their eyes were bigger than
their stomach. Just two years later, Old Country Buffet declared
bankruptcy, leading to the closure of many of their locations. “Nothing’s on the menu tonight at one of
the four Old Country Buffet restaurants in the valley.” “Its parent company shut down suddenly this
week.” It wasn’t enough. In 2012, they declared bankruptcy again, and
were forced to close more restaurants in an attempt to right the ship. But the ship sank anyway, as the chain declared
bankruptcy yet again in 2016. By February, 2019, the official Old Country
Buffet website listed just 17 open locations, compared to a peak of more than 350 less than
a decade ago. “Old Country Buffet was forced to close 90
stores nationwide. That company is set to file for chapter 11
bankruptcy.” So why did Old Country Buffet suddenly drop
off a cliff? The basic answer is that tastes have changed. First, fast casual dining is in. And while it’s hard to imagine a dining experience
faster and more casual than a buffet, the notion of fast casual has become associated
with chains like Qdoba and Sweetgreen, which are more upscale and modern. Second, those places also tend to offer options
that are healthier. Though it’s possible to find healthy options
at a buffet, it also just feels pointless: you go to a buffet because it’s all you can
eat, but if you aren’t planning on eating that much, what’s the point? You might as well go somewhere that prioritizes
quality over quantity. And along those lines is the third factor,
which is the farm-to-table craze. Supplying a chain with bulk ingredients is
difficult enough to do; trying to make sure those ingredients come from sustainable, local
farms is difficult. Yet for environmentally conscious consumers,
that’s a growing consideration. Finally, more and more folks are choosing
to stay home and enjoy a little “Netflix and chili” rather than dine out. That’s providing a boom for restaurants that
deliver, or offer takeout. But you can’t really do either of those things
with a buffet, meaning Old Country Buffets might just be on the wrong side of history. Buffets have always been a family favorite
for after church so it makes sense that with the decline of church attendance in the U.S.
follows the decline of buffet frequenting. But with more families opting to sleep in
on Sunday mornings, it’s probable they’re just eating lunch at home. According to Gallup polling, the 42 percent
of adults polled said they attended church in 2008. By 2017, another poll indicated that the rate
of weekly church attendance was down to 38 percent. Four percent may not sound like that, but
it’s 10 million adults no longer attending church — which means they’re no longer dragging
their kids with them to Old Country Buffet for post-sermon loaves and fishes. Beyond all the specific reasons people are
avoiding buffets, there’s an even simpler explanation: everyone knows buffets are gross. “This doesn’t look like chicken.” “Oh, you’re right! This isn’t chicken, this is chicken! Want some?!” In today’s increasingly health conscious world,
many diners are wary of eating food that was prepared… sometime… and has been sitting
out in bins for… some time? Communal food troughs are fine for animals,
but for people, it’s a recipe for illness. Who knows who else has touched that food? And the more educated people get about healthy
eating, the less they want to go to a buffet. Plus, even when the food is fresh, it’s not
necessarily the best. Buffets are places that, as a rule, specialize
in nothing and offer everything. But do you really want that when you’re picking
a restaurant? Or do you want to go to the place that is
known for being great at making that one thing you’re really craving? Yeah, that’s what we thought. “I’ll have what I’m having! I’ll have what I’m having!” Contributing to Old Country Buffet’s many
woes was the case of Chris Gage. In 2010, Gage and his wife ate at an Old Country
Buffet in Wyoming. Two days later, Chris experienced renal failure
and septic shock. He had to undergo multiple surgeries as well
as a two week hospital stay, but even five years later he was still suffering chronic
pain. The cause? Salmonella from undercooked chicken. What’s worse, just a month earlier, the restaurant
had been fined by the government for 18 health violations due to customers reporting sickness. The Gages sued Old Country Buffet. The chain’s lawyers didn’t even bother coming
to the hearing. Even they apparently knew a lost cause when
they saw it. In their absence, the judge chose to award
the Gages $11.37 million — money, and publicity, the chain really couldn’t afford. Finally, after all of that, if someone still
wants to go to the buffet, it turns out there’s simply a more popular option: Golden Corral. Boasting more stable ownership, Golden Corral
actually expanded in 2017, opening seven new locations to go along with a 3.7 percent jump
in sales. They’ve also modernized their locations with
a recent redesign, which may help explain why Golden Corral is roping in all the buffet
fans left in the lurch as Old Country Buffets shut down around the nation. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about buffets
are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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100 Comments

  1. tried old country buffet several times. tasteless pablum is what comes to mind. but it was good for old folks and kids. they seem to love the stuff.

  2. I currently work at Hometown Buffet as a dishwasher, but am leaving. I get paid well, but it's a disgusting place and there is just way too much dishes to do throughout the day. We are understaffed, but still, plates and silverware constantly is needed in the dining area in short timing. Especially on weekends. This is stressful because there will be 3 or 4 of us working in that dish pit and we can't move that fast. This job is for the lowest of people.

  3. I just don’t eat at too many buffets anymore one because the quality of their food is disgusting and two, because the food is just disgusting, period. Both Old Country and Golden Coral is disgusting. I have not eaten at an Old Country in like 15 years and I have not eaten at a Golden Coral in about 10 years. Buffets, 🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤢🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮

  4. A waste of money, people are disgusting and you can order in from your favorite restaurants now.

  5. I do keto style diet, and will stay on it indefinitely. I will occasionally go to a local Chinese buffet and load up on the veggies, shrimp and chicken.

  6. I don't believe that I have the capability of being able to couch anything in a vernacular that's going to be understood by the people that you want me to talk to.

  7. So nobody noticed the kid with price gun in the buffet ads was Donkey Lips from salute your shorts?…. nobody?

  8. There's still one in greenfield, wisconsin, about 10 minutes from my house. If I'm working in the area, I'll sometimes swing in for lunch. The place does have a bit of funk to it. Think they need to replace the carpeting. I once signed up for the buffet club, in order to get a half off meal . I signed up as "steve poopinpants". The cashier didn't even blink when I handed her the printout. Plus I also enjoy cropdusting as I walk around getting my food.

  9. It always saddens me when a business closes or folds. The entrepreneur in me knows how hard it is to start a business and get it off the ground.

  10. I have had better food from airlines than buffet’s. They all suck and promote bad eating habits, bad quality, heavily salted foods , and often very dirty. Half of everything they make is friend or swimming in gravy.

  11. Unfortunately, last year our Golden Corral closed. Don't know why. I heard tax evasion. But I do remember one time eating there and I saw this lady well, let's just say after she was coughing everywhere—you really didn't feel like going up there.

  12. I ate there like once or twice, it’s literally just a cheat button if you don’t want to cook American food at home. I can literally make way better biscuits at my house and better Mac and cheese. I only went to Old Country Buffet like twice because they had a Christmas discount going on, the food was basic American food. The only unique thing was their soft serve machine which was actually clean and had different flavors other than vanilla and chocolate, I believe they had an orange creamsicle flavor that was really good. They also had self serve drinks, you pay for a cup at the counter and you can get an Icee, regular drinks and sodas, juices, coffee, tea, and milk. Those are the only truly unique things about the buffet, everything else was just a basic buffet serving basic American style food.

  13. How about the fact that the shrinking middle class suburban population of blue collar rural laborers who predominantly makeup OCB clientele are now working part time and are on EBT food stamps. They fell below the threshold to go to OCB on payday every Friday. Now its only a once a month deal. It’s too bad that the economy is failing for most Americans. Those with skilled jobs that make good money in the cities and suburbs eat out at nicer more upscale restaurants. In the cities its Chinese food delivery and grub hub and Uber eats deliver dinners that can cost 75$ or more . This is simply out of the budget of the OCB clientele.

  14. Like many restaurants with buffets in America, Old Country, Ryan’s Steakhouse, and Golden Corral are full of dumb, repulsive, gluttonous fat pigs!

  15. Buffets started of when people were of better quality, sanitary. Now a days so many people are just dirty. Letting their kids play then each play in the buffet. Spreading their nasty diseases from person to person…..

  16. Golden Corral is too much like a cafeteria, I enjoyed Country Buffet because it had a better atmosphere and was cozier.

  17. There's still one by my house and everytime I've gone it's always busy. I think another thing that hurts buffet places is a lot of people end up taking more than they can actually eat and a lot of food gets wasted.

  18. i loved Old Country Buffet..my childhood was literally going to the old country buffet or china buffet every friday with my family. When OCB closed..not gonna lie..it hurt. A year after OCB closed Golden Corral Opened and it is just nothing in comparison..The food at Golden Corral sucks. Oh well I got weight loss surgery 3 weeks ago and those days are behind me.

  19. Provider of video must be a petty ass vegan or vegeterian or stupidllinium that pays $13 for 2oz of kale juice. Never gotten sick from a buffet place n fresh food was always present at the table.

  20. Was this just long advert for Golden Corral? People at OCB all unhappy and food looks disappointing. People at Golden Corral are happy and food looks amazing. Yeah, this is an ad.

  21. Social media is causing the quality to fall in this country. Workers are becoming lazy and more focused on their cellphone and taking selfies. The care is gone, morals are becoming a rare. If you want quality nowadays… Hire only women 45 years old and up who have very little friends and love cats. ✌

  22. Everyone is doing shaming, passive aggressions, and micro aggressions.. a vast majority of ppl are too afraid to be REAL and THEMSELVES smdh -_- and to everyone else as always checkout my YouTube, podcats, and instagram under ghostfacechili, 0 and my secret podcast on the anchor app, and my bands YouTube also if you like electric guitar solos lmfao 🙈🙉🙊🤘✌👻🌶

  23. I've always loved buffets, ever since I was a kid. The whole idea of being able to select what you want to eat, not what the restaurant is serving (like, meatloaf that always comes with green beans–even if you don't want green beans), that you can eat something different from the rest of your party, that you can go back and get more of the what you like, has always appealed to me even though I could never eat all that much to begin with. I'd still like a couple American buffets here in my town but I think it must be harder to "extend" things like fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, fish fry, etc.–and it is easy to do with Chinese food. People are also more aware, at least on the seaboards of America, of healthier eating–not such big portions and what you do eat isn't cooked to death, is less carbohydrate heavy, less "hidden" calories and carbs. It's just that once in a while, it'd be nice to go somewhere and pig out–but I suppose that's what Las Vegas is for, at least one of the reasons.

  24. Got to get to a buffet right when they open up for the day. Otherwise risk watching people who shouldn't be parents letting their kids do what ever they want.

  25. The food is heavily processed and not good. You’re in the bathroom five minutes after eating. The casinos are even worse.

  26. Too many weirdos standing over the food for long periods of time can’t trust people nowadays alot of humanity act like animals

  27. sorry, not buying it. Even up until the moment they close every holiday including mother's day Valentine's day was always packed with lines outside in every small town and throughout the week it was always full. you will always have a segment of the population that wants to get a home cooked meal for hopefully cheaper and get many options. But unfortunately they started raising their prices to some ridiculous rates and that could have contributed to lower sales but they definitely still has sales. Don't even try it

  28. The Head owner of the chain was a crook to close all locations and not even tell the employees and they saw it when they came into work the next morning, we had giftcards we bought and requested a refund and never saw that and it was about $100, the guy is a scammer no wonder they went under

  29. How come these videos never mention that the food sucks as the primary reason? Oh yeah but then what else will they talk about for five minutes?

  30. Not true Golden Corral is all over the south and gets so much business for a buffet its ridiculous plus Ryan's was just nasty but Old Country was good

  31. I stopped going there because a group of people would hang out there, and when people would leave their tables the same group of people hanging out would take the personal property from the people that went for food.

  32. My dad use to take me to the old country buffet every Friday thats how we ended up finding out about it closing cos we pulled up to an empty parking lot btw golden corral sucks! I went their ONCE and it was enough for me being that it was falsely advertised the only thing that was good was the spaghetti

  33. A lot of people prefer to stay home rather than eating out because we're sick of being strong armed into tipping. It's not the customer's job to subsidize the wait staff's salaries – it's the employer's job to ensure that the employees have a reasonable standard of living.

  34. I still try to go to the nearest Old Country Buffet when I can. I only go for their breakfast. though. And I try to get in and out before all the people with their grubby hands start touching over everything. The only reason I still patronize OCB is because it was apart of my childhood and their breakfast is worth it.

  35. I always went for their Turkey & Chicken Pasta Salad…Best Cold Pasta Salad hands down ! Wish I could recreate it

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