The prices of some buffets have been going up. I noticed this past summer that many of the buffets that I go to when I am in different areas and states have gotten more expensive. Of course, everything is getting more expensive lately and the dramatic increases in gasoline make transportation cost more and there for all prices to reflect this in stores, restaurants, etc. So much so, in fact, that some of the price quotes in my articles may be too low now.
There has not been much noticeable change at the chain buffets. The chain buffets - particularly the big three - Old Country Buffet (and all of their various different names), Ryans, and Golden Corral are basically the same in price and that price has stayed in the same "around $10" range for awhile, despite a small increase at OCB about two years ago. OCB includes the soda. Ryans and Golden Corral do not - when you add the soda to their prices they pretty much are around $11.50 which is what OCB is ($11.29). The chain buffets have remained affordable by almost anyone who would like to dine out. A buffet meal at these restaurants does not cost much more than a fast food meal does.
The great differences are occurring in the privately owned and family run buffet restaurants. These are the ones that do not have a regional or national corporation or franchise behind them allowing purchasing in larger quantities of groceries and supplies. At these, prices are going up and have gone up. One of my favorite buffet restaurants - and possibly the best buffet is Shady Maple Smörgåsbord in East Earl,
Another restaurant that I have written about is the Bird In Hand Family Restaurant. The price here was $13.99 weekdays and $14.99 Friday and Saturdays when I first wrote about this restaurant in August 2005. This past summer the price every night went up to $16.99. The meal here is nice, but it is not $16.99 nice. As a result, we did not go there and went to another buffet restaurant this summer. A few weeks ago in October we went in for lunch from the menu and saw that the price was lowered during the week to $14.99 but remained $16.99 on Friday and Saturday nights. Still too high. We again did not have buffet there for dinner. This restaurant does often have discount coupons for $2.00 off in local tourist oriented circulars. With the coupon on a weeknight this is not bad - on a weekend the price is still high at $14.99 (as we were using coupons here before when the prices were lower). I like the restaurant, but I need to keep to a budget, especially when there are other lower priced alternatives that are good.
My greatest surprise was very recently when I took my five year old niece to a Long Island Chinese buffet - China Buffet City in North Babylon, NY. The adult price was just as it always has been on a Friday night - $13.99 - which seems to be the going rate for most Friday night Chinese buffets on
Restaurant prices in general have been going up. Long gone are the diner and family restaurant meals that gave a complete dinner for under $10.00. Now you will pay almost $20.00. One of the larger chain restaurants - The Cheesecake Factory - popular near many malls around the country have platters ranging from $15 to $25. These prices make the some of the buffet prices fantastic - given what you are getting for your money. Yet, the buffet restaurants have always tended toward the lower price range of restaurant dining (with the exception of some of those fancy hotel buffets that can set you back $75 to $100 per person). Hopefully the chain buffets will not go up in price or at least will not increase greatly. I have found that a lot of seniors eat at the chain buffet restaurants almost daily – often at lunch – to avoid the need to cook at home and to be able to have a filling meal out with people around them. When the OCB prices went up about two years ago, these were the people who complained the most and the loudest.
So, if you visit a buffet that you read about here or even one that you have been to before, be prepared for higher prices. If you know of buffets in your area that have increased their prices, please let us know in our comments section.