Friday, November 18, 2016

The Remaining OCBs, Ryan's, and Hometown Buffets

As of today these are the remaining Old Country Buffets, Ryan's and Hometown Buffets. The information comes from the OCB website. The locations map is now hidden in a click on drop down named "MENU". I have to say that like everything else Corporate has done to sabotage their restaurants from succeeding, what a stupid name for a drop down for a restaurant website. Look at this on the page and it appears to be what you click on to see the menu, and if you are not looking to see the serving menu, you would not click here. Surprise! This is where they have hidden the locations link.

There currently are 97 restaurants across the United States. Some states have none, some state have several. California has the most. According to one of the articles sent to us and posted as a common one of our related articles, the original Ryan's location was closed.

Some locations have been scouted by Golden Corral and Golden Corral will be opening in some of those locations, but not all.  Some vacant OCB locations still have their large signs out front on the buildings and these are still lit at night. The OCB location that was once in Levittown, New York has a sign on the door that says, "New Buffet Coming Soon" and under that "Under Construction". There is no clue as to what type of buffet. It would be wonderful if it was an American/Country cuisine buffet similar to OCB and not another Asian Buffet as there is a large, popular Asian buffet directly across the road. We have a number of Asian buffets and various price points, we no longer have any other type of buffet. No Golden Corral, no CiCis, etc.

For me OCB is no more. I would have to travel many, many miles in my state to the remaining two OCBs, or go out of state, again for many miles, to go to one. And then the trip either way would require paying tolls that would more than quadruple the cost of the meal, plus gas.  I have to admit that I miss it. The OCBs here - and then when there was only one - were a regular weekly meal for us. As the song says, "You don't know what you've got 'till its gone!"

If you know of any of these that close, please send us an email or comment and we will remove them from the list. 


Glendale O
Mesa O
Phoenix O


Anaheim H
Bakersfield H
Bell H
Burbank H
Canoga Park H
Chula Vista H
Concord H
Corona H
*Covina H
Downey H
Fairfield H
Fresno H
Fresno #2 H
Garden Grove H
Hayward H
Hemet H
Lakewood H
Loma Linda H
Modesto H
Montebello H
Moreno Valley 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
Kalamazoo O
Saginaw O


Burnsville O


Columbus R
Corinth R
Picayune R

New Jersey

Edison H

New York

Buffalo O
Elmira O

North Carolina

Asheville R
Sylva R


Niles H
Sandusky H
Toledo H


Beaverton H
Medford H
Portland H
Salem H
Springfield H


Hanover R
Harrisburg O
Philadelphia O
Whitehall O
York O

South Carolina

North Myrtle Beach R
Summerville R


Greenville R
Lebanon R
Madison R
Union City R


Conroe R
Waxahachie R


Woodbridge O

Washington (State)

Bellevue O
Kennewick O
Kennewick #2 O
*Lynward 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

* These two restaurants were not on our original list of existing restaurants - and while it seems highly unlikely that two new restaurants have been opened since the closings started - they were not included on the OCB website locations months ago.

** This location was closed for health department concerns but it appears to be still open or coming back as it is still listed as open. 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord, BIrd-In-Hand, Lancaster County, PA, PA

With Old Country Buffet now long gone from where I live and no other country/American buffets anywhere close to this area, the only buffets that I have gone to have been Asian buffets. While they are fine, no matter what the assortment of foods they serve, they are not the same as a good country-style buffet. I have been going through buffet withdrawal. On a recent trip to Pennsylvania I had a chance to scratch a very bad itch and dine at good Pennsylvania Dutch buffets!

One of those was Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant and Smorgasbord in Bird-In-Hand in the middle of the heart of the "Amish Country". We have been there many times and I have written about it before. It has always been good and the only thing that has kept this buffet as an "always go to" has been the price, which some years varies by the season, but has been at $19.99 per adult for dinner on Monday to Thursday and more on Friday and Saturday. While this is not an exorbitant price for a dinner buffet - especailly considering that this price includes unlimited soft drinks and coffee, which can add as much as almost $3 per person at some buffets - in this locale it tends to be a little higher than prices at other good PA Dutch buffets.  We discovered this past summer that all through 2016 in the Visit Lancaster County tourist guide there has been a coupon for this buffet - "Buy One Adult Smorgasbord and Get One Half Price". This brings a $40 plus tip and tax dinner for two down to $30 plus tip and tax and really that is a great price for this dinner.

I have been coming to his restaurant since before it started serving buffet meals. I remember when they first started to have a very small buffet and then some time ago, they redid the interior of the restaurant and made a very large smorgasbord within the restaurant. Over the years they also have added a theater into the lower level of the building that feature local performances of local themed musical plays and stage shows. One can see the show and have the Smorgasbord or just see the show. I have to admit that we have never seen one of their shows, but have heard very good things from local people who have. The restaurant continues to have a menu and if someone at your table wants to order from the menu while others have the buffet that is OK - as long as there is no sharing with the person ordering from the menu. They also have a special buffet for children with kid-appealing foods on it.

The one thing that I love the most at this buffet is their chicken corn soup which is like no other that I have had anywhere else and is truly the best. It is thickened with a secret that I have not been able to duplicate at home and sets this soup apart from all other chicken corn soups. They have sold a restaurant cookbook in their small gift shop for many years and the chicken corn soup recipe in the book is NOT the recipe for the soup served. That is OK - and when I come I cannot get enough of it. I could just order the soup and salad bar for dinner but, of course, I don't. I order the whole buffet and I do have more than one cup of this soup. This soup is always there on the menu and on the buffet. I had this soup last night and as I write about it my mouth is watering. The sell some of their foods packaged from a refrigerator case in the lobby and I know now, as I thought about then,  that I should have bought a quart of this soup to take home with us.

On Mondays to Thursdays the buffet does not feature any carvings. The Friday and Saturday buffet do. What is on the buffet each night varies some and at one time they would list on their website what was on the buffet each night. They do not do that any longer but there is a calendar up at the cashier that says what will be served what night - and these do change. Some things they always include and one of those is my favorite turkey - served from a buffet tray - one tray of white meat and one tray of dark meat - each kept moist and wet in their own juices. I know that I have written about this turkey here before. I love turkey and this is my favorite. Put a scoop of Amish bread filling on your plate, put this turkey on top and cover it in thick turkey gravy. Mix this together and you have created a dish referred to locally as "Amish Wedding Dinner".  On the buffet also on this night were country sausages, roast beef, fried chicken, chicken "bot bie" (local favorite), chicken in mushroom sauce, chicken and pasta Alfredo, scalloped potatoes and ham, pork and sauerkraut, baked cod, fried butterfly shrimp, and more. All that we had was very good.

There is a salad bar with a nice variety of prepared salads plus lettuce and salad fixings. There has been a meat salad on some nights - ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad. This night there was turkey salad - good! There is a bread bar with a variety of artisan breads and rolls.

All of the baking comes from the Bird-In-Hand Bake Shop which is also owned and operated by the same family who owns the restaurant - though located further down on Route 340. They have been known for their cakes and pies for many, many years independent of the restaurant. Dessert at the buffet is made up of baked goods from this bakery and there is a very large assortment. It is possible just to order the dessert bar and have your total fill of these wonderful pies and pieces of cake. There are also prepared desserts, fruit, soft serve ice cream and sundae bar, and a frozen soda machine. All are included. You can try shoofly pie or a whoppie pie. They have added a pie that has become a favorite of mine - Lemon Sponge pie. I had never had this before this past year and it is wonderful. It is a thin layer of cake on the top with a lemon custard below in a pie shell - all baked as one. Terrific! Since it is just November, I wanted pumpkin pie and they had it - made with pumpkins grown on their farm using their own recipe. It very much satisfied my desire for pumpkin pie - and that may be the only really good pumpkin pie I get this season.

The service here is very good. The restaurant is very clean. The people who frequent this restaurant are locals, Amish families, Mennonite families, and tourists. The same family - the Smuckers (not the jelly Smuckers) - has owned and operated this restaurant from the beginning. 

We have been going to this buffet more this past year than we have in recent previous years. That coupon has been a great incentive - besides the good food and abundant meal that you get here. Do I recommend this buffet? Yes. Will I go back? Definitely.

It is November and there is no OCB to go to for Thanksgiving dinner. We have been contemplating the four to four and a half hour drive each way to this restaurant through Thanksgiving Day traffic in three states to go here for their special Thanksgiving Grand Smorgasbord. The price is only $29.99 each which for a Thanksgiving buffet of this caliber is very good. Reservations are required and you are making a commitment with payment in advance to come. Seating's are limited and often sell out early.  The problem is that if the weather is bad we would not be able to make the trip. One more reason why moving to this area sounds so good to a buffet maven. 

 Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant is located at 2760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505. The phone number is 1-800-665-8780. There is a website located at the side of this page.The restaurant closes at 8:00 pm and is not open on Sundays. You will not be seated for the Smorgasbord after 7:30 pm.