Friday, December 26, 2008

Bits of News For the Year End

It looks like 2008 is closing on a down note for the Ryans chain, taken over and brought down by Buffets, Inc. Reports have come that Ryans all over are closing. We have learnedof two more closing. From customer and employee observations most of these were doing well. We have to wonder why productive restaurants are being closed by chain management that is trying to boost their finances.

On the opposite side of the Buffets Inc. bankruptcy story, Buffets Inc. announced in early November that it expects to come out of bankruptcy in the First Quarter of 2009. At the same time it was made known that in at least one state the companies debts to vendors would be paid back at a less than one percent equivalent of debt with stock offerings. Vendors owed money by Buffets, Inc. in this one state will not even make back 3% of the money owed them - if the stock actually pays off.

One of the more well known Chinese/International buffets in the New York metropolitian area on Long Island called EAST has been closed since August 2008 due to a fire in their kitchen. This buffet was very popular and was always filled with Asian guests. Their buffet menu always included very authentic dishes often unknown in the usual Chinese restaurants. I have written at least two reviews about East on this site and those articles may be searched in our archives. There has been great anticipation as to when this restaurant will reopen, and it was recently announced that it will reopen under new ownership. The restaurant will no longer be known as East. There will be some changes made. Of great concern has been what will happen to the gift certificates that many people have for meals at EAST. The new owner has said that he will honor those gift certificates for a limited time when the new restaurant opens. The gift certificates will be covered by the old owner who will reimburse the new owner for each one redeamed. East does have a restaurant of the same name in Queens, NY but that restaurant is owned by a relative of the owner of the now defunct, East in Huntington, NY. At first it was said that the Queens EAST would honor the gift certificates from Huntington, but when that restaurant was called to confirm this they stated that they will not honor the gift certificates. All this said, the new owner of the property has yet to file for any building permits and no work has begun to restore the interior of the building in Huntington. It does not look like this new restaurant will be opening any time soon. As you will read in my reviews of EAST I have always enjoyed this restaurant. The food was excellent. The problem was though that it was very expensive - even on a weeknight with a coupon. I am looking forward to the new restaurant and I am hoping that the price will be more affordable.

There has been a reappearance of the Ponderosa Restaurants chain website. This website has been closed for some time coinciding with the financial difficulties and bankruptcy of the parent company (no not Buffets, Inc. this time). For a while it was uncertain if the Ponderosa restaurants were remaining open and there was no way to search for any Ponderosa restaurant without that site. A month ago or so I got an email coupon from Ponderosa for a meal deal. I curiously looked to see if the website was up and it was not. I then, a couple of weeks ago got another coupon and when I tried the website link there was the website. If you have read my article on Ponderosa and the resulting comments it is still uncertain that Ponderosa can be considered a buffet restaurant. Their focus is always on what you will order off the menu with the "buffet" as a salad bar with appetizers complimenting the plated entrees from the menu.

Cici's newest commercials no longer say that you can come in for a meal for under $5.00. The newest ads tell you the meal is "$5 and change". The last time that I was at a Cici's about two months ago the meal price was $5.99 - add the soda to that and you are at $6 and change. Still a great deal!

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! I hope that 2009 is better for all of our friends who are trying to survive at Ryans. Next week I will be featureing our Buffet of the Year for 2008.


Anonymous said...

Buffet's, Inc (Ryan's) will not direct deposit our paychecks for the next 2 pay periods. They are mailing our checks to us for us to take to the bank to cash. Buffets said for an audit, but 25 years in the restaurants business and I have never heard of direct deposit being cancelled for an audit. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

your wife will be happy to know that the ryan's chicken pot pie is coming back!!! the "new and improved?" recipe is being discontinued.

Anonymous said...

East buffet is back as Best buffet. Newsday did a quick look and said it looks very similar. Best mentioned they retained the kitchen staff from East. We'll see if it's still the same

Robert A said...

Interesting that it is reopening with the former kitchen staff as in a previous report the original owners completely washed their hands of the restaurant and refused any comment about its future.

Good news that Best is finally opening - I will have to check it out and let you all know how it is.