Friday, October 10, 2008

Something New at Old Country Buffet

Actually, there are three somethings new at Old Country Buffet. Every so often we will go to Old Country Buffet for lunch. On the window there were two large posters. - one featured TAKE OUT buffet meals and the other featured Soup and Salad Bar Lunch. Hmm. Interesting.

We went inside and at the cashier there was another poster. This one said "New Feature". Old Country Buffet has not had a menu feature in almost a year - maybe longer. I have written about this during the year. I waited in anticipation of the "summer barbecue" feature that has been the highlight at OCB in July and August. It never came. I put it up to one of the consequences of a restaurant chain in bankruptcy. But now, looking up at this new poster, what do I see? Kansas City Ribs! Kansas City Ribs have been the center point of that summer barbecue feature. They are one of the few things that I will actually say that OCB does well. The new feature is Kansas City Ribs and Butterfly Shrimp. Now, butterfly shrimp have been around on and off for a while. A week ago they were on the Friday night buffet. Shrimp at OCB is no big deal. There is almost always fried shrimp in one form or another on the buffet. It was even there on the lunch buffet. But Kansas City Ribs are special and make an appearance for a very short time when there has been a featured bbq special. According to the poster, the Kansas City Ribs and Butterfly Shrimp are featured right now every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at dinner. Let's hope that it sticks around for a while.

Now, the other two "new" ideas at OCB. The first is Soup and Salad Bar lunch. This is available Monday to Friday at lunch only and costs $4.99. The regular lunch price costs $7.99 so you save $3.00 by skipping the hot food and the dessert bar. You can add the dessert bar for another $0.99. But how would this work in a buffet where everyone is mixed together, the buffet servers are all grouped together, and there are no wait staff returning to your table to refill drinks who will keep an eye on what you are taking? I was very curious.

I watched through our lunch to see if anyone was having the Soup and Salad Only lunch. As far as I could see, no one was. We looked around tables to see if there were different color table reserved tickets. We did not say any different from the lunch buffet ticket that we had. Finally, we found one of the staff that we know and asked (this person does not know that there is any connection between me and this site - as it is at every buffet that I go to). It was just a curious question about how does the soup and salad only lunch work. What we learned is that, indeed, you are given a different color ticket - and it is up to your table cleaner to keep an eye on you and make sure that all you take is from the soup and salad bar. I waited until we got outside after lunch to laugh. Here is a restaurant where the table cleaner barely comes around - if at all - to take away dirty dishes from the table. This is the person who is supposed to "watch" the tables to make sure no one is eating from the wrong buffet. I suspect that this new idea will be short lived when they find out that many who pay the $4.99 are eating everything - and not just soup and salad - with no one the wiser. (I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT ANYONE DO THIS - IT IS ILLEGAL AND WRONG!) This is certainly going to happen. This especially will happen if the table is mixed with full buffet and soup and salad bar diners.

I have been to buffets that offer this and it does work, but at those buffets - as I alluded to above, there is a waitress or waiter assigned to your table to bring you drink refills. They are general around and about and will visit your table regularly. If you were to take something from the wrong buffet server at one of these restaurants, that waiter/waitress is going to know immediately. Whoever had this idea at OCB in upper corporate management either is unaware or does not care. I guess in disparate times of bankruptcy and a bad economy, desperate ideas will be tried.

The other new feature is Take Out Buffets. This is actually a good idea and from what I was able to learn an actually generous offer. Take Out lunch buffet is $5.99, dinner is $7.99, and soup and salad bar is $3.99. You are given a foam clam-shell tray, a foam soda cup with lid - and I am assuming something to put soup in. There was no sign of a scale at the cashier and a comment was made by a customer that you are able to fill the tray with whatever and as much as you want - as long as it is not overflowing before it is closed. Done wisely, you can assemble a nice meal for a good price - of course it is not "all that you care to eat", but that is why it is less money. There are many who would like to have the buffet meal but need to be home or want to pick up a nice meal on the way home from work. This will work nicely for them.

None of these new features are listed on the OCB website - curious, but they are not. It may be that these are locally offered. Every poster was an OCB corporate printing - so the offer is coming out of the corporate offices and may be featured at some locations and not or before other locations. Not even the little sign on the tables mentioned these features - these were still pushing the breakfast buffet. But I can say, that these features do currently exist and if they have not come to your OCB, ask why not!

**** Just after I finished writing this article I received an email coupon from OCB (just sign up with an email address on their website) for a free dessert upgrade if a soup and salad lunch is purchased. So I guess they are now starting their campaign!


xhtml coding said...

well buffet is all we need

David from Gary Indiana said...

There's also something new, which isn't good, and that's 2 dinner price structures. I didn't look at the senior prices, but for regular dinner prices, they now charge $11.09 on Monday - Thursday, and $11.59 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (at least around my area of Gary Indiana). I don't know if this has been implemented at all locations, but around my area, it has. Dinner continues to rise the fastest, and I think the reason it goes up the faastest, is that they're taking a loss on lunch during the week. At the Highland Indiana location, lunch on Monday - Friday is $6.99/$5.99 for seniors from 11am - 3pm. The Hobart/Merrillville Indiana location is 50¢ cheaper on their super lunch special from the Highland location.

Robert A said...

In NY prices are rising even higher - dinner Monday to Thursday is $12.19 and Friday to Sunday $12.79.

Tarabeth said...

we were in the levittown, ny ocb recently and saw a senior couple load a huge foam chest under their table with food from the buffet, desserts, bread etc. other people at ehir table were doing the same thing with plastic bags. this went on throuout their meal. the staff did not seem to care the very least. this kind of thing will make prices rise even more.

Robert A said...


I have been planning an article on the "abuses" that go on by customers at buffets, but have been hesitant lest it be used as a "how to guide" to rip off restaurants.

The lack of reaction of the OCB employees would not surprise me at all for the Levittown, NY OCB.

S. Albioccoco said...

that kind of thing goes on in the Levittown OCB all the time. that and all the kids fingering the food at the servers when their parents should be supervising them. i've seen things spit out back onto the servers. after seeing all that once too many times I now dont go back.
you should write that article about the abuses though as it would help management at these places also.

Anonymous said...

Our Ponderosa Steak House, in Manitowoc Wisconsin, just closed its doors on Monday evening with no notice. The newspaper said the owner is overseas and just told them to shut it down. It employed 60 people, some who have been there 20+ years.