Friday, July 15, 2016

The Pie Nobody Seems to Want

For the past three months Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, and Hometowm Buffet, at least all those who are still open, have been trying to sell strawberry pies. This is an odd offer that Corporate has been pushing on the restaurants, sending emails out about it, emailing coupons, and prominently featuring a pie in a glass pie display with a sign on the counter of the cashier. "Take Home a Strawberry Pie! - $9.99"  I have gotten emails with coupons that say - "Buy any adult or senior dinner and take home a Strawberry Pie for $X." I say "$X" because X started out as $8.99, and then another coupon came that said $7.99, and most recently the coupon is for $6.99. At the cashier desk we caught a glimpse of "rules" for the cashier to follow in dealing with customers. One of those "rules" was sell the strawberry pie. Interestingly, we have never been asked to buy a strawberry pie by the cashier.

Now, why do I say this is odd. Certainly other restaurants and buffets have offered their baked goods for sale to take home - those they are well known for, those that customers can't get enough of. Well, the odd thing here is that they don't serve this pie in the restaurant. It has never been on the buffet and customers have never had an opportunity to taste it. When we asked if the pie is on the buffet when we first saw it at an OCB a few months ago, we were told that it would be on the buffet dessert bar in June. June came and went  - no strawberry pie.

You also have to wonder what are they looking to feature with this pie. Their great baking? It is not so great. In fact in all of the OCBs, etc. that I have been in over the years the baking is just fair. Often cakes are dry, baked goods are either over baked or under cooked, and frankly, their baking is nothing to brag about. I have taken and not eaten almost raw corn bread, crunchy stale chocolate cake, and other desserts that were not good at all. Where did they get the idea to sell pies that they don't serve? I wish I knew. But with this Corporation nothing makes sense.

Does the pie look good? I am not sure if what is on display is a real pie. I wonder if it is then at the end of the day what happens to it? It certainly is not cut up and put out on the dessert counter before closing - at least not when I have been there at that time. Is it the same pie sitting there day after day? I hope not, but it does not look like it is not fresh - yet it has sat there from opening to closing - with its dabs of whipped topping around the edge and its strawberries in glaze filling the pie shell. I say whipped topping because what OCB, etc.  put out on the dessert bar as whipped cream is a thickened artificial whipped topping that is not good. This has also shown up on other desserts.

And the price! I know bake goods sell at high prices these days - but I have bought some really excellent pies at bake shops for less than $9.99. I recently bought an exceptionally good Lemon Sponge Pie for $8.00. Selling an untasted Strawberry Pie for $9.99 where the baking is just fair is not a great sales idea. Now, had that pie been out on the buffet and people had a chance to have a slice - and they liked it, this would be different. 

I also have to wonder what happens if someone actually buys a pie. Do they run into the kitchen and start baking a fresh pie? Is it ready when you leave? Are they keeping a stock of pies in the kitchen that never seem to sell? I have never seen anyone buy a pie - and we have been in remaining OCBs since this pie feature has been introduced. Are the pies frozen and sold that way? I don't know. I certainly hope that these pies are not made each day and sit in the kitchen for as long as it takes to sell them - because I doubt they ever sell.

I hope that selling the pies is not a test of which locations they keep open. It would be terrible if not being able to sell these pies meant your restaurant was no the list to go next! Is selling pies no one has ever tasted going to bring the company out of yet another bankruptcy or boost income to the point that restaurants show a profit? I don't think so. It is all just so bizarre!

Here is a clue Ovation Brands or Food Management Partners or Buffets, LLC or whatever you are calling yourselves these days - if you want to sell a pie in a buffet that costs the ridiculous price of $9.99 - put it out on the buffet and let your customers find out that they like it - maybe then you will sell a few pies!

Just as this article was about to publish, it was learned that they have given up on selling the pies. As I suspected, no one bought them. It was said that more time was made in making the display pie each day than it was worth as the pies did not sell. So apparently that display pie every day was the real thing. I wonder who ate it - or after sitting under glass all day it was likely tossed.


Anonymous said...

Alice's adventures through the looking glass have a closer basis to reality than OCB!

Anonymous said...

the PIE is one they made and sold at another concept they own. The display pie was suppose to be cut up every 4 hours and sampled to the guest and a new one put I the display. What usually happened is the pie went into to the cooler at night and kept getting put out until it went bad. Yes, if a pie was ordered they would have a crust ready in the kitchen and someone would have to go make it for the guest while they waited. It goes along with the big cup to go for $.99 to $1.69 that the cashier must push on every guest or risk losing their job. They are looking for any way to put .25 cents to the bottom line because they are struggling with sales.