Friday, January 31, 2014

Colorado sees surge in 24-hour-all-you-can-eat buffets

News - Business - January 31, 2014 

DENVER -- Citing an increased demand for mozzarella sticks, breakfast burritos, pizza, and buffalo wings, a spokesperson for the Buffet Division of the National Restaurant Association, Colorado chapter, announced Wednesday that several members would be expanding their hours to accommodate late-night patrons.

"What a month!" exclaimed Nicholas (Nick) Michaels, speaking on behalf of BD's Mongolian Barbecue, Golden Corral, Cici's Pizza, Bengal Buffet, and Country Buffet. "2014 is starting out as a banner year for our local industry."
Photo courtesy of the National Restaurant Association,
Buffet Division, Colorado chapter

When asked to clarify, Mr. Michaels explained, "I cannot comment on national trends, but here in the Centennial State we are already seeing a huge uptick in number of patrons, and increases in portion size and return trips to the buffet. We believe expanded hours, accompanied by a modest increase in prices during those hours, will help us capitalize on this newfound popularity."

Dean Costas, proprietor of Boulder's Buffs Bluff Grill, is equally excited about the opportunity for expansion. He added, "We have plans for a tiered selection of items to suit every taste.  For instance, students from the University of Colorado may prefer a separate, low-cost buffet with our most popular comfort foods, like Funyons, Ramen noodles, and raw cookie dough."

Experts credit consumer confidence and an increased motivation to eat outside the home.  Maria Thomason, an analyst with Wall Street Trends, explains: "Fast casual is a winning category, and metro Denver has always been a leader in food movements. Just as we saw this area pioneer (pun intended) the gluten-free phenomenon, we expect this 24-hour-all-you-can-eat buffet movement to ripple, especially as tourists cross state lines and bring the concept from Colorado back to their hometowns."

Not all restaurant owners see expanded hours and increased staffing as a solution for the overwhelming demand, however.  Jason Lin, owner of East Chinese Buffet, stated that he would instead be invoking the "Homer Simpson Rule."

"We reserve the right to refuse service to those who take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet," explained Mr. Lin.  "We are not a super buffet or a chain.  We are a local, family-owned-and-operated restaurant. These newcomers who stay until the Sterno burns out are just taking food away from our neighborhood regulars."

Mr. Lin's newest neighbor, Travis Monarch, proprietor of the Cannabistro, which opened on January 1, wishes the restaurant down the block would be more accommodating of their shared patrons. But he remains in good humor about what some might find a tense situation.

Said Mr. Monarch, "Sorry, am I laughing again? I'll try to stop. I don't mean it. I feel terrible. I love that guy."

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