Friday, May 25, 2007

Ryan's and the Old Country Buffet - Evidence of Takeover

I have not been to a Ryan's Buffet since I found out about the buyout by the investment corporation that owns the Old Country Buffet. I am not local to any Ryan's and I only am able to get to one when I traveling - and at that only when I get further south than usual.

I recently had an opportunity to go to Ryan's in Chambersburg, PA (just on the other side of the Maryland border) and was a bit surprised when I walked in the door and found a large display with the recent feature. This floor sign was the same colors and print as the current feature at the Old Country Buffet and featured the same items. There they were - Rancher's Select Steak, Pork Riblets, and BBQ Ribs. And what is the feature now at OCB? The very same!

I was not at Ryan's on a night when this was being served. It is offered Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (I actually may go there on one of those nights in the next few days.) One thing that I am certain is that the preparation at Ryan's will be far superior to Old Country Buffet. The main reason - as I have noted in the past - is that Ryan's has a char grill out in the open kitchen in view of the dining room. Steaks are cooked and served to order. At OCB the steak is made in a broiler in the kitchen and brought out in a pan where it continues to cook before it is served - always tough, dry, and overdone.

More important than the steak is the evidence here of the buyout. Never before were the menus linked in any way. Not only are the features now the same, but they are named the same - "Rancher's Select" steak - and the advertising in the restaurants are identical.

If there were going to be any influence of one restaurant over the other, I would have hoped that it would have been Ryan's influencing the OCB and not the other way around. It has always been my opinion that Ryan's is the superior chain. Now, perhaps I am making an incorrect assumption. Maybe the feature came from Ryan's and was sent over to OCB (where they ruined it). This I am not sure. What I am sure of is that there is now a tangible connection.

If I can get back there I will let you know how these dishes are served at Ryan's. I have been to OCB since I saw the sign at Ryans and low and behold - the signs are exactly the same - same printing, different restaurant names!


jtan said...

The open grill viewable to patrons in the dining room where the steaks are grilled to order seem to be a design trend in newer OCBs. Maybe they took notice of Ryans layout and incorporated this piece of design into the new OCBs? The one in Fairfax, VA, for example, opened up about two months ago. Being a fan of OCB, I visited this one when it opened(which is close to where I live) and was very surprised at both the food quality and design of the separate grill section.

Robert A said...

Wonderful news. Maybe at some point they will retro-fit all of the OCBS to have a cook to order grill. This is what has be sorely lacking at OCB and, has made them number three compared to Ryans and Golden Corral.

Delphi said...

OCB/HTB are in the process of adding grills to all their restaurants. This process was started long before they bought out Ryan's. Obviously with the number of OCB/HTB restaurants in existence it will take a long time for all the grills to be added, but hang in there. It will happen.

Sneezy said...

We heard just today that Ryans chain is in Chapter 11. Any truth to the rumor? It came from a vendor to whom our local Ryans owe money - they aren't getting paid because of it.

Robert A said...

Ryans is owned now by Buffets, Inc. which is one of the largest buffet restaurant management companies in the US - they own and operate Old Country Buffet.

It is highly unlikely that the whole chain has filed for Chapter 11, but it is possible that a local franchise owner of a Ryan's may have.

Sneezy said...

I don't know why I didn't check before I asked you about it, but if you'll Google Ryans Owner in Chapter 11, you'll find several articles stating thatBuffet Holdings, Inc., has filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The announcement was made January 22, 2008, per a writeup in St. Louis Business Journal

Robert A said...

This is very interesting - and distressing news. I hope that Buffets, Inc. did not buy Ryans just to close it! Chapter 11 does not always mean closing, but this is ominous news. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Robert A said...

Further detail - it is not just Ryans but all of Buffets Inc including OCB that is effected by this Reorganization. The statement by management is that the intention is to remain doing business as usual and the move is to make the organization stronger.

Interesting that OCB would do this and not pay its creditors - at least not right away.

Sneezy said...

I found that interesting also, especially since it was one of Ryans creditors who gave us the news - a small local business that's hanging on by the skin of their teeth already. I'm not pleased with this policy of business-as-usual, make the payroll but stiff all your vendors, and it could weigh heavily whether we continue patronizing Ryans and OCB.

Robert A said...

Usually in a reorganization the creditors eventually are paid - they just have to wait.

Anonymous said...

I recently ate at the Ryan's in Fredericksburg, Virginia after being in a movie shoot in Stafford, Virginia.

There are no Ryan's near me (central Montgomery County, Maryland)

There is a Ryan's in Gaffney, South Carolina, the town where my college is located in, Limestone.

So, I was very happy to be able to eat at a Ryan's.

HOWEVER ... I am trying to find out who ate who. Did Ryan's take over (eat) Old Country Buffet or did Old Country Buffet take over (eat) Ryan's?


Robert A said...

Old Country Buffet "ate" Ryan's. And there is quite a controversy that has been brewing. Please see recent articles on this site from August 2008 through September 2008.