Friday, August 17, 2007

Changes at Ryans

We were recently at a Ryans in Virginia and just at a Ryans in South Carolina and noticed several changes that are definitely Old Country Buffet ownership influences. I had hoped that the influence would go the other way and the superior chain of Ryans would influence their new owner's, not quite up to par chain, Old Country Buffet. But it seems to be going the opposite way.

There have been some changes at the salad bar and not for the better. In the past the Ceasar salad at Ryans was a make it yourself salad. There was Romaine lettuce, dressing to top it with, cheese, and croƻtons. Now, the Caesar salad is pre-made - just like at OCB, premixed and tossed with dressing (actually too much dressing in this case). Also on the salad bar they have now added the Greek salad that is served at OCB. Just the same.

As was mentioned in a previous article, the special features at Ryans are just the same as OCB - they had the rancher steak, riblets, and ribs - with the exact same sign on the table promoting it and now there is the same Steak Steak Shrimp Shrimp Shrimp. I did have an opportunity this time to taste the Rancher Steak at Ryans - which is also served at OCB. What a difference! The steak at Ryans is very good! The Rancher Steak at OCB is tough, over-cooked, greasy, and generally one to avoid. Steak is still served at Ryans seven days a week - not the six days at OCB. With the end of the barbecue feature, Ryans has taken on Steak, Steak, Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp, the why bother feature from OCB. Here at least the steak is decent, but again, all of these so called "feature" items are on the buffet anyway.

A new addition at Ryans is carvings. There was a REAL turkey being carved in the Ryans in Virginia and a turkey breast in South Carolina. In Virginia it was not the turkey breast of unknown origin at OCB, but a whole turkey. It was nicely cooked. This was the only positive OCB influence evident (though there is little if any positive influence that OCB could have over Ryans).

Ryans once had great labeling on their buffet servers. You used to know exactly what you were taking. The signs were clear and usually in place. Now, there are few labels on items - just like OCB.

The general public does not know that there is any connection between these two chains. All they will know is that things are not exactly the same at Ryans - and some of these things are not for the better. I still like Ryans - perhaps it is still the best of the chain buffets. (I have to visit a Golden Corral again to make a new comparison.) I just wish OCB would leave well enough alone.

That all said I want to give some recognition to the young man who was the grill chef at the Ryans in Spartanburg, South Carolina located on Route 29 named Ken. When I went up for some steak Ken told me that there was nothing that was medium rare but if I came back in six minutes he would cook one for me. He did. Later in the evening I went back for another piece and as he saw me coming he told me that if I came back in eight minutes he would have cooked a medium rare for me. And again, he did. I did not mind the wait. As we were having desert he came around the dining room to see if anyone wanted more steak - he approached our table with a smile and asked me if I wanted another one. I told him that he was great and that the steaks were excellent! So here is another outstanding buffet employee that I have come across in my buffet adventures!


Anonymous said...

I believe Buffets Inc has Completly fired all of Ryan's Coporate staff and is running all six hundred restaurants by themselves. They Bought the company so they are turning the campany into them

Robert A said...

What a tragedy that would be!!!