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Need New Buffet Ideas

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I am working in a new buffet and looking for some ideas. The place has been run down a little bit as it pertains to customers. We are located in a Casino and serve an "older crowd" yet still do have families that come in regularly. Our problem now is two fold. One we run a lot of the same menu items over and over so the regulars get the same food thrown in front of them, and two on the slow nights (every night other than FRI-SAT) we throw away a lot of food because it is not appetizing at all. Therefore I am looking for some new ideas on items to add in to the mix. We run and Italian, Country, Mexican, Asian station format. The Asian stuff is good. Its the other three I am worried of. Im open for any suggestions but I can post our current offerings if need be. We currently run 40ish items, one carving station, a full salad bar, and a full desert bar.
post #2 of 11

One we run a lot of the same menu items over and over so the regulars get the same food thrown in front of them

two on the slow nights (every night other than FRI-SAT) we throw away a lot of food because it is not appetizing at all


ok well so

too much repetition


unappealing foods


wonderul (no offence but i wonder how ur making money)


hmm u say "asian section is appealing"

older crowd...


are u willing to play a pan asian buffet instead ? so you turn into a pure asian buffet

4 stations



south east asia





4 stations






well other ideas (buffet concepts)

DIY = customer assemble.. like salad bar etc

Noodle bar = one chef standing there and makes noodle to order etc

or pizza bar (fresh bake pizza/ pasta) - if u want to keep italian

fresh made sushi rolls

fresh cut steak OR

MTO food (made to order)

like customer has like table number tags and they walk to one particular station and put down their tag along with a particular food they want to eat then the station chef preps the food and either customer goes back to take or it gets delivered over


(expert at buffet XD)

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Couple points to make: 1.) Its a Casino, so we don't make money really. Its a double edge sword though. Our purpose is to keep people in the casino, we are a mere amenity not a stand alone restaurant. This doesn't mean we don't strive to make money, (for the first time in a long time we are in the black acctually) yet that is not our number one goal. I would like more customers though, and I personally hate the fact of how much food we toss out. 2.) I am not in a position where I can chance the buffet in anyway according to concept or layout. We have to stick with the stations and Ideals that are in front of me. I am just looking for new recipe ideas to test that follow the homestyle, italian, and mexican concepts on a serve-yourself type of buffet. Think golden corral as sad as that is.
post #4 of 11

What does your FOH look like?

Take a good critical look at it.

New carpeting/flooring and seating options go a long way to make or break a place.

First impressions are important.

You mentioned families.

Do you have a special child friendly station?

One that is well within sight of the parents?

Most people tend to put too much on the plate...but with that in mind, what is ending up in the garbage most often?

Really need to see your menu to provide actual buffet item suggestions.



post #5 of 11

this? lol
<if this is the same place ur working ... all i can is LMAO - GOOGLE ftw->
hmm well

italian buffet...

mexican buffet..


ok regarding to toss food thing

(island shangrila is the PIONEER of hotel buffet concept <asian style... cuz asian like buffet>)

one thing is do not make too much food in one going

make emm in small batches so that customers always get the "freshly made food" and you wont make too much wastage



and may i know what food ur serving atm? esp for the chinese section/ asian cuz u say guests "LIKE those"
and where are the guests dining? like is it a sit down place... or its a grab and go gamble style..

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
we serve a sit down style. Its basically a casual restaurant serviced by a buffet. Typical items pulled pork, chicken picatta, chicken marsala, fried chicken, catfish, mac n cheese, mashed, sweet potato, pastas, flatbread pizzas, enchiladas, fajitas, etc. Basically im looking for creative ideas that hold well...similar to like picata, or shrimp newburg, and such. Not looking to change the restaurant at all, please just stick with recipe suggestions. thanks
post #7 of 11

Well sure you can stick with recipe suggestions only, but you say you have a problem, and my impulse is

to investigate why what youre presenting to the public "is not appetizing at all" as you stated.

Does that stem from your perception of the visual presentation of the product, or something else?

And BTW, when was the last time you went round and actually TASTED every single entree and side dish you're offering?

If it's something you wont eat, thats a problem in itself. And if you're throwing away lots of product, maybe its time to actually

CONSIDER changes, even a menu overhaul before coming up with, -new items to add into the mix-.


Also if youre using full sized hotel pans and tossing 3/4 of it, use half sized--you have to change out more often, but from the

customer's viewpoint there's nothing better than standing at the buffet watching a brand new pan of what theyre interested

in being slid into the lineup. Sure it may have been made at the same time, but at least half of the fresh food business

is human psychology.

And (sidenote) in my personal opinion I think it's beyond tacky to replace a pan and dump the old food on top. (often many hours old)

The reasoning is they'll eat the old first. But you have only to watch people for 10 minutes to see it doesnt work

that way. I never understood the logic of [contaminating] new fresh tasting food with what's been sitting

around all morning.


A final suggestion....get out there and talk to your clientele--there's no better feedback than from the people who are

eating it--or deciding not to.

post #8 of 11

Was not going to post in this thread again, but just a tiny question.

How long will newburg hold (and still be safe) in a buffet situation?

If the place is "run down" that is as equally important as what you are dumping in the trash.

There is a Tex-Mex place down the street from where I live.

Food is excellent, well seasoned and fresh and never greasy (was even featured on that Guy person's FN show. Something about diners and dives.).

We get take out because the place is "run down" and the food just doesn't taste as good when seated.

I have been in the BOH and know that they keep to an immaculate standard of cleanliness.

Not so much the steak house (also in my neighborhood) dirty bathrooms, stained carpet and dusty ceilings are not my thing.



post #9 of 11

Food is excellent, well seasoned and fresh and never greasy.... We get take out because the place is

"run down" and the food just doesn't taste as good when seated.



Psychology, Flippy.....psychology!rolleyes.gif

post #10 of 11

if ur really just looking for new recipes

then.. think seasonally?
cuz ur not willing to change... anythig other thatn the recipe ..

like in summer u make a summer veggie pasta/ wat ever with a summer soup etc then in fall u change then winter then spring.. this way u have 4 menus ...

post #11 of 11

try smaller single serve dishes for example country night; pot pies served in 6oz. disposable aluminum (unless you have enough ramekins)...not sure if you present dishes in full pans but things like this you can cook as many as you need for that time instead of firring a whole pan for a small lunch. Also any prepped can be saved... fish en papillote is also easy to control as far as cooking you have a action station? its good for pasta night and high end food items. As far as pasta goes, cooking to order in front of customers limits throwing away whole pans of pasta when it gets dry. a shrimp saute station, you can cook 3-4 batches at one time....try to fill the line with cheap foods that people like. baked potato bar, elote for Mexican night (corn mixed with mayo,parm and garnish with cayenne or paprika)....Ive ran a few buffets in casinos and cruise ships so I feel your pain. sauces and garnish are the key to a buffet. you can serve the same thing but a sauce and garnish can change the dish fully


sauces for fish

 escabeche-(carrots,onions,jalapeno) marinaded in vinegar (peppercorns,bay leaves, cumin) good for mexican, Mediterranean or Asian

 vera cruz- tomato based sauce with olives, onions (capers optional)...make like you would a putanesca and adjust the seasoning to make it mexican or italian (also for chicken)

 dill cream- basic bechamel with dill and lemon...make it like your picata without the for salmon

 sweet and sour- You know already

 coconut curry- red or green, garnish with soft carrots and/or small diced potatoes, for whiting,buffalo especially sole (pork, chicken, lamb)

 fresh salsas- mango, pineapple or roasted corn   (mix with reds and green...make it bright)

 balsamic glaze- very simple. mix with honey...garnish with mandarin oranges (chicken breast)

 caper brown butter- Crowd favorite, never fails....brown butter, capers, shallots, rosemary (i don't like rosemary but love it in this sauce...just don't over do it)

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