Friday, March 25, 2016


Dutch-Way Restaurant in Gap, PA has been an absolutely go to on every trip that we are in this area. We have been there on various nights of the week and have never been disappointed. This is one of the buffets that are unique to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania that are located in supermarket buildings. The buffet is not in the supermarket but is owned by the supermarket and is in the same building. The decor is very much like most of the family restaurants in Lancaster - pleasantly decorated with tables and booths scattered through two areas of the restaurant. The buffet is offered breakfast, lunch, and dinner Mondays to Saturday.

So what makes Dutch-Way Gap a Top Buffet?

The food is very, very good and the dishes vary from night to night and from visit to visit. There is a featured theme every night that focuses around what is served from the grill/carving station and this carries over to the entrees on the buffet tables. Each time that we have gone, in addition to specific features on the grill and carvings, there has been at least one dish that we have never had before and each has been something good. Food is a mixture of PA Dutch/Amish dishes and continental entrees and side dishes.

The food is consistent in proper preparation, kept at the correct temperatures on the buffet, and in taste when the same dish is served. There are some things that I look to find each time we go on the salad bar and they are there. They make an exceptional chicken salad and it is one of the prepared salads found on their salad bar. It is so good that I have thought to just order the Soup and Salad Bar as I could easily make a meal of their chicken salad. (I have not done that yet, because they I would miss out on the rest of the buffet.) The foods on the buffet are properly maintained and not allowed to dry out and are replenished before the tray is empty. The buffet tables, the buffet area, the dining rooms are consistently clean and well maintained. So are the restrooms - which are located in the lobby of the restaurant.

There is great value here. The price of the buffet is comparable and perhaps even less than the chain buffets. There are children's and senior prices as well. The price is a little higher on the Friday and Saturday as there is Prime Rib at the carving station. Thursday nights are higher as this is the Seafood Buffet. This is a very affordable family restaurant at family prices - and if you have some at your table who do not wish to have the buffet that is no problem at all. There is a full menu here along with the buffet and some at the table may have the buffet and some may order from the menu - please don't give anything from the buffet to someone ordering from the menu (that is this site saying that).

There is quality in what is served here. The meats and vegetables are coming fresh from the food market on site. The baked goods are bakes on premises. Items on the grill are cooked to order.

Service is very good and the best - I mean the BEST - waitress in any restaurant works here. I have written about her before and there is no better. Whenever we are there, we look for her and ask for a table in her section.

Sadly, the last time that we were going to have dinner at Dutch-Way, it was closed for the employee Christmas party. I looked forward to this for a week. We were in the area for business during the day and in the evening we went to the restaurant and got right up to the door to see the sign that said that they were closed for their party. Well, they deserve a party for a job consistently well done! I do wish that they had been open, as we could both taste that dinner as we walked up to that door. Just writing about this buffet I can taste my favorites there! Soon, soon...

This buffet is not in the main tourist area of Lancaster. It is off to the edge of the county and not far from Delaware. You will not find tourists dining here. You will find local families here - Amish, Mennonite, and the English (as the Amish refer to the rest of us). These are the people who shop in the supermarket or just come here for dinner. There is a shed for horse and carriages to be tied up outside in the parking lot.

The Dutch-Way Restaurant is located at the Dutch-Way Farm Market Supermarket at 365 Gap Newport Pike (Route 41), Gap, Pennsylvania 17527. The dinner buffet is served from 4 pm to 8 pm Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. The restaurant is closed on some holidays. This is about two and a half miles south of Route 30. There is a web site and that is linked at the side of this page. The phone number is 610-593-6080.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Survivors

I have been asked by readers to go back to a weekly format for this site during this crisis at Old Country Buffet, Since this is a breaking story that seems to have a lot of interest by our readers I will do that while there is anything new to report. I will return on the alternate weeks with our regular articles and when there is something to report about OCB, etc. I will put out an article on that in the week between. This is the first of those articles.  If you are one of the managers or employees who lost their jobs during this massacre in the past two months - or even if they relocated you and are willing to tell your story anonymously, please leave a comment on any of our articles relating to the closings or send us an email through the email link at the side of this page. Without further information or stories we have nothing to write about and report. We are happy to keep this story alive, but we need everyone's help to do so. My anonymous insiders are currently silent. (I would be too if my job was at stake.)

I have a list here of all of the restaurants that have survived so far in the closings of Food Management Partners'  Buffets LLC in the months of February and March 2016. What is most interesting to note is the counts of the restaurant brands that remain. There are 58 Hometown Buffets (45 of these are in California - all in California are Hometown Buffets), 41 Ryan's, 32 Old Country Buffets (the once leader of the chain), and 2 Country Buffets. Fire Mountain is gone completely.If I have added this up correctly there are 133 Survivors.

I am curious about the number of Hometown Buffets. At one time - years ago - I had learned that the Hometown Buffets were franchised - each being owned outside the Buffets, Inc (the corporate name at the time) by franchisees. More recently, I was told that all restaurants in the chain were owned by Buffets, Inc which became Ovation which became Food Management Partners which sub-grouped all into Buffets LLC. So - are these Hometown Buffets franchises - and safe from the whims of FMP or are they just lucky. And why so many in California, particularly that escaped closure?

I also find it interesting that Ryan's - the buffets that Buffets, Inc. purchased to destroy and turn the remainder into OCB clones has survived greater than Old Country Buffet - the flagship chain of the corporation! Since I have seen at least some Ryan's (sadly all gone now) maintained a good part of their former menu and did not change their menus to total OCB, this tells me that Ryan's had it right all along. At one time I saw Ryan's as the best chain buffet in the U.S. - better than Golden Corral and far better than OCB. Perhaps had the Ryan's menu - and grill in the dining room (many OCB's never got one) - been put in every OCB the whole chain would be thriving now rather than dying.

Well - for those who would like to see who survived, here are the buffets by state and town/city. Next to each is a letter - O for Old Country Buffet, R for Ryan's, H for Hometown, and C for Country Buffet.  If there are further closing we will try to update the list when we can.


Foley R


Glendale O
Mesa O
Phoenix O


Anaheim H
Bakersfield H
Bell H
Burbank H
Canoga Park H
Chula Vista H
Citrus Heights H
Clonis H
Concord H
Corona H
Downey H
Fairfield H
Fresno H
Fresno #2 H
Garden Grove H
Howard H
Hemet H
La Hambra H
Lakewood H
Loma Linda H
Modesto H
Montebello H
Moreno H
National City H
Newark H
Oxnard H
Palmdale H
Palm Desert H
Rancho Cucamonga H
Redding H
Rialto H
Salinas H
San Diego H

San Jose  H
Santa Ana H
Santa Clara H
Santa Maria H
Stockton H
Torrance H
Turlock H
Van Nuys H
Visalia H
Westchester H


Colorado Springs C
Denver C


Manchester H


Newark O


Crestview R
Pace R


Athaus R
Commerce R
Rome R
Waycross R


Chicago O
Effingham R
Mount Vernon R


Highland O


Cedar Rapids R


Shawnee R


Bowling Green R


Lake Charles R
Ruston R


South Portland H



Burton O
Jackson O
Kalamazoo O
Saginaw O


Burnsville O


Columbus R
Corinth R
Picayune R

New Jersey

Edison H

New York

Bay Shore O
Buffalo O
Elmira O

North Carolina

Asheville R
Salisbury R
Sylva R


Niles H
Sandusky H
Toledo H
Wooster R


Beaverton H
Medford H
Portland H
Salem H
Springfield H


Hanover R
Harrisburg O

Philadelphia O
Whitehall O
York O

South Carolina

Anderson R
Greenville R

North Augusta R
North Myrtle Beach R
Summerville R


Greenville R
Lebanon R
Madison R
Union City R


Conroe R
Lake Jackson R
Waxahachie R


Woodbridge O

Washington (State)

Bellevue O

Kennewick O
Kennewick #2 O
Puyallup O
Tacoma O
Union Gap O
Vancouver H

West Virginia

Charleston R
Clarksburg R
Princeton R


Eau Claire O
Greenfield O
Jamesville H

TWO buffets were removed from this list that were closed on May 9, 2016. One more buffet was removed from this list that was closed on May 11, 2016. Eleven more buffets was removed from this list that were closed on June 14, 2016.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Buffets LLC Files AGAIN for Bankruptcy

What is going on in the world of buffets at this very moment is too crazy to not focus on right now despite that we were in the midst of our Top Buffets of 2015 series of articles. For the moment that those articles will be delayed for two weeks more.

What a disaster is happening right now with Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, Fire Mountain, Hometown Buffet and the other buffet restaurants that were once part of Ovation Brands that "merged" (read "taken over") by Food Management Partners less than a year ago in 2015! As we reported in our last article there were Ryan's that were being closed but it did not stop there. We then learned that 80 restaurants throughout the chain with the various "brands" - OCB, Ryan's, etc. were to be closed before opening on Sunday, March 6, 2016. We, at Art of the Buffet, were tipped off before it happened. We were not told which restaurants would close - and since then the media in the areas were restaurants were shut suddenly started reported restaurants that were closed by greeting the employees and managers at the door - not being allowed inside - and told go home you don't have a job anymore. This is how Ovation did it a few years ago - and it is how they have done it now. Our local OCB in Levittown, NY was one of the restaurants shut down. We have learned that the manager of that OCB was told at 10:00 am on Sunday when he arrived at work intending to open the store.  At one restaurant in Memphis, TN the local police were called in to remove the employees from in front of the restaurant - with local news crews watching!

We have learned since Sunday that Ovation Brands has filed for bankruptcy. This is the third bankruptcy that Ovation Brands formerly Buffet's Inc. has filed. This one since their take over by Food Management Partners who have been and are currently controlling everything now - making the  decisions to close the restaurants - and while Ovation Brands is the name on the bankruptcy the decision to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy is coming from Food Management Partners. The names of the companies gets a little confusing at this point. Apparently, Ovations Brands after the merger was renamed Buffets and was made a LLC - Limited Liability Corporation. Buffets. LLC is within Food Management Partners. So Buffets, LLC is what was once Buffets, Inc. and then Ovation Brands. Up until a week ago, the name Ovation Brands appeared on all coupons and such released for OCB, Ryan's, etc.

That 92 restaurants were closed on Sunday and 74 were closed in February. We had heard 80 - there were more. We had heard that 150 would remain open - another source says about 90 are still open. We have no confirmation on that. Another source says that before this rash of closings, there were 243 restaurants in the chain. Less the 166 restaurants just closed (92+74) leaves only 77 restaurants still remaining. Golden Corral must be thrilled as they are in many areas the only player in town now. And sadly, they are many areas were there is no Golden Corral and none for almost 100 plus miles or more.

This is what we know about the bankruptcy (from WHAM, Rochester Ch. 13). The story comes out of San Antonio, Texas. Buffets, LLC says now that its intent is to "restructure by closing certain weaker restaurants and recapitalize its business." Everything in the "stores" (restaurants) will be auctioned off by an online auction company. (We have heard from one of our readers that food in storage at the restaurants was picked up by employees of the nearest other restaurant in the chain and taken to that location. Of course if there was no other near location we can only assume that it was disposed of - my comment - I have no confirmation of this.)  The auctions have ended at this point.

According to WHAM, Rochester, NY at the Greece NY OCB - "A sign on the door stated that the location is "closed for asset inventory" until March 8. Employees were directed to report back for further instruction from 2-4 p.m. on March 8." At the Levittown OCB the sign on the door that we saw on Monday says just "CLOSED. GO TO BAY SHORE" - Bay Shore is another OCB 20 miles further east on Long Island. We went to Bay Shore this week - none of the employees from Levittown were there. We are not sure about management - though the general manager from Levittown was no where to be seen and if they lose him, they have lost someone who given the resources to do so would keep the restaurant full of customers. Continue to tie his hands - and there will be more closings.

Per WHAM, Rochester  - " "Buffets, LLC, was acquired by merger in August of 2015. The Chapter 11 filing is prompted by the discovery of liabilities, or alleged liabilities, that we believe were not disclosed in our negotiations," says Peter Donbavand, Vice President for Business Development. "We intend to investigate the propriety of the disclosures, and intend to consult with our counsel regarding any remedies we may have." This was also stated by Mr. Donbavand - "a "precipitous decline in sales" at some restaurants that was unusual."  These were called "weaker restaurants". There was also a law suit that Food Management claims not to have known about in Nebraska where a couple sued an OCB due to salmonella poisoning that led to kidney failure in the man after eating at an OCB in 2010. A Wyoming US District Judge awarded a judgement of $11.37 million after failed to respond to the lawsuit when it was brought in 2014. Now the dates here get a little screwy - Ovation says that this is after they were sold to FMP - we know that sale did not happen until September 2015. Ovation says it was not them that had to respond - even if they were called Buffets, Inc. in 2010, then a name change does not clear a corporation of responsibility for a law suit. Obviously, the judge thought this also - and gave a default judgement of a LOT of money. Law suits are public record. Don't tell me this was not known by FMP when they were buying out Ovation.

I have to respond to Mr. Donbavand's last comment - "precipitous decline in sales"? Why not be up front and say we did everything we could to have our buffets lose customers and make it nearly impossible to run a successful business. When Food Management Partners took over they cut salaries and benefits of employees and managers. They did nothing to improve the menu at any of the restaurants. And they cut back on the number of employees working at any one given time at the buffets so that there was one person carving and also trying to refill buffet trays, two to three employees taking care of all of the tables in the restaurant including have to remove plates when finished, keep the area clean, and then clean the restaurant for closing. How do I know this? I watched it as it was happening at two different OCBs  and a Ryan's - and only one of those survived - for the moment. These buffets were set up to fail by Corporate. I don't buy the story that financial liabilities "we believe" were not disclosed in negotiations. He has got to be kidding us! If this so called large food management corporation went into merger or take over with any company, you know that every page of the financial records were scrutinized before a dollar changed hands.

The story now is we have closed all of these buffets to keep the rest open. I would love to believe that - I see more closings coming and the end of existence of all of the OCB, etc. buffet restaurants.  I, truly, hope not.

My sincere best wishes to all those who lost their jobs at these buffets in the past two months. You all did the best that you could do given the meager resources you had to keep these restaurants running. No notice! I am guessing no compensation package. Just terrible! 

As we have offered in the past - if you - the employees and managers - wish to anonymously tell your story respond to this article by either comment or send us an email. If we get enough emails and responses we will put them together in an article all their own - or if not, we will put the emails here as comments preserving your anonymity.