Gone are the days of soggy sausage rolls and pineapple on a stick. Today, the buffet is bigger and better than ever before.
Eating establishments of all types are adopting the self-service format and a dedicated high street chain concentrates solely on this concept. So, now is the time to embrace the good old fashion spread and reap the rewards.
Sunrise to sunset
Once only used at weddings and wakes, buffets are now a regular choice for the hungry diner. Mitchells & Butlers’ Crown Carveries started with an all-day roast dinner and then decided to introduce a carvery to its breakfast menu and make additional revenue from a traditionally quiet time. After a trial, the breakfast buffet proved popular and profitable and it’s now available in 90 pubs across the UK. For £2.99 customers can help themselves to a full English or Vegetarian breakfast. The company said that the buffet breakfast has enabled them to reach new guests through offering a different dining experience.
The Buffet Place featured in Brewer Fayre pubs have proved profitable. Whitbread rolled out the all-you-can-eat concept in 2010 and it includes a self-service counter and themed nights which include a Curry Night, Chip Shop Night and Chinese Night. Amanda Barnett from Brewers Fayre says, “The Buffet Place has been really successful in driving covers and offers a great value price point.”
Variety is the spice
The Red Hot World Buffet chain has restaurants in seven cities throughout the UK. With kitchens dedicated to global cuisine, the chain proves that this popular style of dining isn’t limited to just English food. Their Indian kitchen whips up hundreds of custom-made specialities, and an eight-metre sushi counter offers a constant supply of freshly rolled sushi. This is in addition to a gourmet burger counter, Italian kitchen, Thai and Chinese kitchens, kids’ station and patisserie section. Director Helen Dhaliwal, who launched the first Red Hot World Buffet venue, explains, “We revolutionised the idea of a buffet to offer freshly-cooked global cuisine at great value. We’ve painstakingly researched every element of what makes a great dining experience, from the type of food on offer to how it’s cooked, the price and the surroundings.”
The price is right
The fixed cost of buffets appeals to both caterers and consumers.The majority of dishes can be prepared ahead and the diner believes they are getting far more for their money. But with add ons, like drinks, it is the caterer who is winning.
Unlimited customer choice
A buffet’s success is down to giving the customer choice. As Red Hot World Buffet’s head chef Deepak Bahuguna explains, “There are no rules or limitations with this style of dining. The customer defines the experience they crave by deciding what goes on their plate. It enables them to try new foods or a mismatch of them all in the one place.” Mitchells & Butlers puts the success of its breakfast buffet down to the fact that the customer chooses what they want rather than having that choice made. They can build their own breakfast meal, just the way they want it.
Advantages of a buffet:
- Theme night options
- Reduce staff costs
- High gross profit
- Promotional opportunities
- Extended service hours