How far should you be able to take "all you can eat"?

Where do you sit in the “restauranteurs who offer all-you-can-eat” vs. “people who take a LOT of food” debate? (One example is here.)

One part of me thinks, “If you’re going to offer all you can eat, you know a few greedy pigs are gonna take more than their ‘fair’ share. If you don’t like that, stop offering it; it’s not worth it. Otherwise, suck it up; it’s not fair to offer selectively, or go back on your word.”

Another part of me thinks, “Greedy pigs are greedy pigs; they’re ruining the experience for other diners and then whine when they’re prevented from shoveling three quarters of the available food down their gullets. Their rudeness loses them any moral high ground.”

What do you all think?

The last place I’d ever go is an all-you-can-eat restaurant, because isn’t the food just terrible?

If it was good food, yeah, there should be limits. But in the cases where the restaurant’s food is good, there already are limits.

I sit squarely on the “don’t offer it if you can’t back it up” side. A business has no business (hah!) offering something they can’t afford. If you can’t afford to feed Steve the Wonder Glutton every day, don’t offer an all-you-can-eat buffet. Simple.

If, on the other hand, offering the AYCE is worth it in terms of the business it brings in, suck it up and deal with the inevitable gluttons. You’ll get far worse publicity by pulling a bait-and-switch than you will otherwise, I think. And customers quite literally don’t give a shit about your financial condition. They shouldn’t have to.

What it comes down to is, either set your prices high enough it doesn’t matter, or come up with a different way to sell. Instead of AYCE, how about half-price lunches? Or go with a per-item charge. Something.

But don’t be a dick and promise what you can’t deliver.

There is an east indian Buffet near where I live that I frequent.

Their motto is “Many of our staff come from a place where food is precious… enjoy all you want, but please do not take more than you need”

99% of the patrons follow that. The only time I have seen them “cut a person off” was when a woman shoved about $20 worth of shrimp vinfaloo onto her plate and then said “I can not finish that… please wrap it up to go”…

The manager came over and politely informed her that “This is an “eat in” restaraunt” only and that they would have to respectfully decline her request.

She FREAKED, and called them all sorts of names., including racist epithets

They responded quite politely and explained that while her clientel was most valuable, they could not allow her to continue to create discomfort for other customers.

She freaked louder

The police came and were all but happy to take her from the premises.

I love impromtue dinner theatre…


I can see why restaurateurs get miffed if you take a bunch of food at an all-you-can-eat buffet and then not eat it (for example, not eating the rice in the sushi and then taking more) but if the glutton is eating it all…well, he’s not exactly breaking the rules.

The restaurant can either stop offering all-you-can-eat or charge more for it.

The trouble is that some people take “all you can eat” as a challenge. :slight_smile:

Or as an obligation. “I want to leave, but technically, I can still force more down…”

My understanding is that “buffet restaurant” means a restaurant where food is set up on talbes in a common area and the diner gets up to help themselves at the food tables. Buffet does not necessarily mean “all you can eat”.

If a restaurant says “all you can eat”, then they should honour that sign, keeping in mind that they probably also have a sign saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

So I really don’t have a problem with a restaurant turning someone away, unless you can prove that it’s a legally forbidden form of discrimination. I might disagree with their reasoning for turning away people, and I might decide to boycott that restaurant if I feel strongly about it.

There is this giant all you can eat Chinese buffet close to here that opened up a couple of years ago. It must have seating for 200 people and fills most of it on the weekends. It is on the hot list of a buffet newsletter that my wife’s elderly and very cheap uncle gets. I believe it costs $11.95. I am not generally a fan of Chinese buffets complete with jello molds and crappy cheese pizza.

However, this place has two kinds of crab legs piled high, multiple shrimp dishes, a sushi bar, and two kinds of raw oysters shucked on demand. I leaned a while ago that if you use it strictly as a seafood buffet, it is the deal of the century. We took my FIL there for his birthday and all 8 of us at the table were like-minded. We ate only seafood and had crab shells and oyster shells piled high. If it was ever time for them to say something, it was then and they didn’t bat an eye. It wasn’t the best seafood ever but it was good, especially the oysters that usually go for over $1 a piece, and you couldn’t beat the volume. All of that cost a little over $100 for 8 people. I will give them good PR forever.

All you can eat is all you can eat, as long as you are eating what you take, you should be allowed to eat as much as Bottomless Pete, nature’s cruellest mistake. But if you’re getting footlong hoagies just to eat the pickle slice and tossing the rest, you wasting food, not eating, and should be sent fishing.

:Checks hotel accommodations in Holliston:

There’s a stereotypical crappy Chinese place by my office, and they’ve got a $6 lunch buffet. Greasy Mongolian beef, nasty sweet-n-sour chicken, and chocolate pudding.

The saving grace is their excellent hot and sour soup and a decent selection of maki. My colleagues fill up on a plate or two of the salty glop (that comes out the other end an hour later) while I down plate after plate of dragon and dynamite rolls.

The only other all-you-can-eat places I’ll eat at are Indian joints, where I can easily put away three plates. They’ve yet to look at me funny.

Somebody made me go to Cici’s a couple of weeks ago. Ew.

I think also it can hurt the restaurant if gluttons are hogging tasty stuff like peking duck, oysters, or sushi - because people who eat regular portions will resent that they don’t get access to the premium food. If people just have larger than average appetites then fair enough. But if people go out of their way to screw the restaurant and the other patrons then I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for them. Throw them out and let everyone else eat in peace.

When we lived in Las Vegas, we used to go to buffet at Circus Circus on occasion. Not the best food in the world, but definitely tasty, and the price was right. The selection was fantastic. The atmosphere left something to be desired, as the PA system blared variations on the theme of “Take all you want, but eat all you take!” I think that AYCE restaurants are justified in requesting that people not take more than they can eat, and that they take no more than say a third of an available dish. That is, if there are 12 shrimp in a serving dish, perhaps it would be considerate to leave eight of them for other diners. Of course, if the dish is just about empty, it’s fine to clean it out. It’s NOT fine to take most of a freshly served offering.

For any LV dopers…does Circus Circus still have the arcade midway? And the live circus acts?

There used to a little hole in the wall place on the SW side of Chicago (ChiDopers help me out, I’m going blank. Somewhere on Pulaski I think…) that had an all you can eat seafood buffet on Fridays. It was like that. Nice little price and the tables were full of crab, shrimp, fried, sauteed, broiled anything…lobster tails as long as they lasted that night…

When we were young, freshly married and poor, we were there almost every week.

Many all-you-can-eat restaurants here have time limits of around 90 minutes or so (partly to keep traffic moving, but also to prevent people from camping all day), as well as rules about eating all you take. Beyond that, they pretty much figure what most people will eat, assume that a few will eat a huge amount, and charge accordingly.

As for greedy pigs, as long as they’re not sending food flying as they eat, I have no problem with their gluttony. They should go back for repeat servings, however, rather than taking everything and leaving nothing for the next person in line. Again, some restaurants I’ve seen target this by making the plates smaller and having a ‘one plate at a time’ rule.

MPSIMS: Back in the 20’s, the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was the first place in Japan to serve a western-style buffet, which they called their “Viking Smorgasbord”. other restaurants quickly copied the idea, but because nobody could pronounce ‘smorgasbord’ they simply called their buffets ‘vikings’. As a result, the Indian place down the street now has a Curry Viking for lunch, and cafes everywhere offer Cake Vikings.

If the restaurant advertises “All You Can Eat”, I take that as a challenge and will respond accordingly. Expect me to bring a deck of cards and 3 friends, we’re going to be awhile.

If somehow they don’t like it, they should have made it “All You Can Eat in 90 minutes” or whatever.

If you advertise all you can eat, expect people to do so. Wasting food is one thing. But taking all of one dish and eating it is fine. Either there will be more, in which case others have nothing to complain about. Or there won’t, in which case the glutton was clearly right to take it all in the in the first place.

I rarely visit AYCE’s anymore, partly because I got sick of the feedlot mentality of many of the patrons. I’ve seen people walk back to their seats with 1/3 of the tray of crab legs heaped so high on their plate they’re spilling over onto the floor, or they’ll take half a pizza as soon as it hits the buffet table. I can understand somebody who’s just there for their favorite dish, but there’s no need to be an inconsiderate glutton about it. They’ll always make more food, for crying out loud. Eat a litlle now, and a little more later. Go back 10 times if you want. Just leave some for everyone else in between trips.

For the rest of my life my brain will be tainted with the image of two 400+ pound women at the Dragon Bay Buffet in Crystal, MN in 2002. Heaps of soiled plates filled the two tables they occupied together. There was quite literally a ring of spilled food and scraps on the floor surrounding them. The Chinese wait staff would stare at them with this look of intense horror every time they passed.

They had probably eaten enough for my wife and I to live on for a good week or more. And spilled more than we could eat in two visits.

Fucking pigs. I would have cheered the staff on if they had given these two the boot if only for the mess they were making and the food they were wasting.

All you can eat, people, not all you can ruin.

Do you mean “clearly right” as in ‘isn’t breaking any established rule’ or as in ‘behaving properly’?

I’d hate to see your approach to the “take a penny/leave a penny” thing.

AYCE buffets are great, if you want a freakshow where the dregs of society act their absolute worst. Not so good for actual dining, in my own experience, except perhaps for the “high-end” buffet places, which tend to be prohibitively expensive (in an effort to defer costs incurred by patrons who bring their own deck of cards and attempt to literally see how much they can eat until there is no space remaining in their esophagus to permit swallowing).

If you are truly an connoisseur of the five-pound plate of rehydrated mashed potato flakes with canned beef gravy, or just enjoy the spectacle of a 45-year-old man in his third trimester performing a surprisingly graceful balancing act while maneuvering his fifth 12-inch mountain of Meat Lover’s pizza back to his booth, then by all means: go, and put your own personal spin on the “you” portion of the “All You Can Eat” concept.

Ignore the horrified stares, whispers, and gasps from the onlookers— they’re clearly jealous, and not even in your league. You’re a champion, you’ve always known it, and “rib night” at Sonny’s BBQ is where you’re gonna make sure the rest of the world knows it too!