Friday, August 12, 2016

Another Old Country Buffet Set to Close - And Maybe More...

We had a big shock tonight when we arrived at the last remaining Old Country Buffet in downstate New York (there are two others in upstate NY) when we saw a sign on the door that said "New Hours" and then listed breakfast and lunch hours and then said - "No longer doing Dinner hours".  This was computer printed - not from Corporate but from the location. There was a handwritten sign under this that said no dinner after August 8. What? Huh? This was a Sunday night. Inside the restaurant was buzzing with customers. We were there just three nights ago - there were no signs - it was business as usual.

I tried to find out.  "What is going on with no more dinner?" Employees were not talking. I don't know was the response. "I don't know anything." Well, we were able to find out. The restaurant is set to close permanently on September 12, 2016. The employees have been told. Some will lose their jobs now as there is no need for those who worked during dinner. Some of these employees have been working here for 18 years. Everyone will be fired in September. Of course, the problem when it has been announced to employees - which is should and needs to be - that they will soon be losing their jobs, they go off to find new jobs. The dinner cook has quit - and no one wants that job. They have tried and cannot hire anyone. Of course! So as you are reading this the dinner has been discontinued since Monday, August 8. The employees were told the reason is "the economy". What a crock! Golden Corral is booming. The Asian buffets in this area do very well - especailly from Fridays to Sundays. It is easy to blame the economy but we, who have been following what seems to be an intentional dissolution of this company by its new owners since they obtained it less than a year ago. They have been setting these restaurants up to fail all along! It is not the economy. The company has been in bankruptcy three times - though tonight we learned four times. Each due to mismanagement at the corporate level. This company was bought out less than a year ago and claims that they learned after the sale that the company that they bought was in a lawsuit over food poisoning. No corporation buys or takes over another corporation without full investigation by their law team of any and all litigation past and present.

Now - here is some speculation and I have no source for this - it is just a possible scenario for what is happening. There is a Federal Labor Law that says that when a company is going to close (not a location but the whole company) employees must be given X number of days notice that they will be losing their jobs. That X is 50 or 60. (Not sure which.) It is not like whatever name corporate is calling itself now - and I have heard three names for this company used interchangeably - has in its history walked in on the morning that they are closing a restaurant and hang a sign on the door. No notice. A big surprise to all who work there including management.  Now we have an Old Country Buffet that has been given notice of a close date - September 12. The employees have been notified. Could this indicate that all remaining restaurants will be closed on or about that date? I don't know - but it sounds very plausible. How sad!

We are very upset. The employees are VERY upset! You can see it in their faces. Regulars were going up to employees that they have come to know well and were saying goodbye to them. We dine there sometimes twice a week. This was THE ONLY non-Asian buffet for maybe a hundred miles. Maybe more. We have spent several Thanksgiving dinners here - a nice place to go when it is just the two of you and you have people all around you enjoying the holiday along with you. Now that is to be no more. I remember my first meal in an Old Country Buffet so long ago - it was in an OCB in Fredericksburg, VA - gone for some time now - perhaps because of a nearby Ryans - though it was gone before the merger. This was very likely my last meal in an Old Country Buffet - simply because there won't be one to have a meal in. Another loss.

I am going to ask you, Readers, to contact us if you know anything about other OCBs, Ryan's, or Hometown Buffets that have been given notice of closing. Perhaps you are an employee, a manager, or a customer. Let's get this out there. No names will be used in any reports that you share with us. Contact us - not by comment - but by email to artofthebuffet@gmail.com

We also welcome reactions of employees at all levels whose lives are being turned upside down by this company. Use the same email link above. We understand how upset you are but if you leave a comment please do not use any profanity - or we can't approve the comment to go to the article. If you use the email we can put a few *** instead of what is really what you want to say and post all of these comments in an article.

We are so sorry that employees and managers are being treated this way. You are (were) the backbone of the company and you deserve a lot more respect!

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I first started eating at OCB in the early 90s and I too doubt I will ever have another OCB meal. Sad. I actually had planned to have dinner in a Hometown two weeks from today as I will be traveling to an area that still has one (we haven't had an Ovation buffet in some time and I haven't eaten at one in nearly two years now) and I have been cautiously optimistic that I will be able to have my meal before more likely shutdowns. I know not to expect much in terms of variety or quality, but I have been looking forward to it more for nostalgic purpose than anything else. I say it's 50/50 that I will have the opportunity to have that meal now, not because of my availability, but because the restaurants are truly on borrowed time now each day they are open.

Anonymous said...

I missed this one. The original Ryan's closed two weeks ago

http://m.wyff4.com/news/first-ever-ryans-steakhouse-location-closes-in-greenville/41100516

Writer said...

We are letting this article run at the head of the site for another two weeks. Other OCBs are closing. We need you to let us know what others have closed or are about to close. ------ Art of the Buffet

Anonymous said...

http://wqkt.com/ryans-closes-in-wooster/ Ryans in Wooster Ohio is gone

http://www.salisburypost.com/2016/08/23/ryans-buffet-closes-abruptly/ Ryans in Salisburg, NY is gone as well

Anonymous said...

Check this out. A very candid article

http://www.startribune.com/golden-corral-feasts-on-old-country-buffet-memories/391883831/#1

Anonymous said...

Jackson Michigan closed yesterday.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/article103285022.html

Clovis, CA also closed this week

Anonymous said...

As has North Augusta, SC

http://www.wrdw.com/content/news/Ryans-Buffet-closes-in-North-Augusta-assets-up-for-auction-394200421.html

Anonymous said...

While not one of the buffets, a Don Pablos (which is also owned by FMP/Ovation) closed the same way:

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/10/03/don-pablos-closes-battle-creek/91484588/

Citrus Heights, CA Hometown closes:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article105211796.html

Lake Jackson, TX Ryans closes:

http://thefacts.com/free_share/article_8246608a-fe85-52ef-8384-7e405d8064b4.html

Rumor of another Hometown closure:

http://www.gazettextra.com/20161003/old_navy_hometown_buffet_deny_facebook_rumors_theyre_leaving_pine_tree_plaza

Anonymous said...

La Habra, CA Hometown closes:

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/closed-731636-year-restaurant.html

Anonymous said...

The "Locations" tab has been removed from the website. Prepping for more closures??

Anonymous said...

http://www.independentmail.com/story/news/local/2016/10/27/anderson-big-buffets-disappearing/92774670/

Anonymous said...

Well this doesn't bode well

http://abc7news.com/news/2-south-bay-hometown-buffets-close-due-to-rodents/1578865/