Friday, February 13, 2009

Takeout at the Old Country Buffet

As you probably are aware, or perhaps you are not, that you can "takeout" the buffet at lunch or dinner at Old Country Buffet. This is not new. It was introduced several months ago. It costs $3.99 to take out the lunch buffet or $7.99 to take out the dinner buffet.

Buffet takeout is not unusual. Many of the Chinese buffets do this. It is usually done by giving you a styrofoam, lidded container and you choose what you want, it is weighed, and you are charged by the pound for what you have taken. There generally are rules that you cannot take all of one item and that there must be an assortment of what you take.

I watched some people who were taking out the buffet at dinner at Old Country Buffet recently and realized that this is not the case at OCB. You could take everything and as much as anything that you want as long as you get it into the container and it closes (though that is not so much the case either).

I watched one man in particular. He did nothing wrong. What he did was pile on as much of everything that he wanted into that container. Now, it was all on top of each other - mixing in to each other, but so many people at buffets fill their plates this way that this is nothing unusual. As I watched I was certain that he could not get that container closed. He placed it down and pushed that lid down on top squeezing down everything inside until it could be snapped closed with the two little tabs on the front. As he filled heaping portions into the container no employee said anything to him. You pay for this as you enter, so he could leave either by the unattended door at the side of the dining room or the front door. He left through the front door and no one said a word to him. Yes, the buffet is all you care to eat, and taking out the buffet limits what you can take in regard to what you have to carry it out in - but there is an almost five dollar difference between the take out price at $7.99 and the weeknight dinner buffet price of $12.39.

This all got me thinking. While it is impossible - because of how the takeout is structured at the Chinese buffets - weight and the requirement to take an assortment - to do this with other buffet takeouts, it is very possible that one could fill an OCB takeout container with all meat - perhaps several steaks. Or all shrimp. Or any of the other items that if purchased in any other takeout would cost a whole lot more than $7.99! You could plan a party and feed your guests very economically - and well - with OCB takeout. Did this occur to OCB when they set up this buffet takeout feature? Now that I have pointed this out will someone at Buffets, Inc Corporate pull in the offer or restructure it?

I am not suggesting that you do this - though by how the takeout offer is offered, it is perfectly legal to do. I just thought this so not usual that I would share it with you.


Anonymous said...

Ryan's offered to go by the pound, you paid for what you took. Naturally, Buffet's wanted to "improve" the system (can you say more losses)

dave73 said...

I have seen people at Old Country Buffet try to stuff a lot of food (especially meat) into the small container. I even once saw someone take food out that isn't part of the soup & salad carryout. So OCB needs to revise their policy on this one to keep it from being abused.

As for chinese buffets in my area, most charge by the pound. One charges regular rates per container (like OCB). So lunch is $6.88, and carryout costs that as well. Dinner is $8.88, and so is carryout. Golden Corral is the most expensive for carry at $5.00 a pound. For what I eat, it's cheaper to dine in.

I should add that since Ryans is also owned by OCB, they're slowly going to one price for carryout (where they used to charge by the pound local to me), and even dine-in is going to 1 price, rather than one price for the meal, and charge the beverage separate. They're including the beverage in the price of the buffet.

Zachary said...

they said that charging by the pound is a strategy they did not want to make thier customers have to go through or something hers an article that talks about it I think..