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How to combat buffets?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm the son of an authentic Cantonese/Chinese restaurant owner that operates close to O'hare International Airport for almost 16 hears now. When I mean authentic, I mean stuff you will most definitely not find on your the mediocre chinese take-out place. We have large dining area. I've been watching our business decline because of the many buffets that opened up all around me that sell lunch at 7$ and 12$ for dinner. 

What can we do to combat them? Or are we at a loss? 

 

Thanks guys.

post #2 of 8

Here in North Central Florida ( Ocala ) just about all Chinese Buffets sell lunch for $5.99 and dinner for $ 8.55 during the week and dinner for $10.95 Fri,Sat and Sun.

On top of this you find %10 off coupons for lunch and $1.00 off coupons for dinner.

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow. How do they survive?

I have no idea how to combat them. I just feel some customers just want more choice for less money and still deal with lower quality of food...

 

I don't understand their mentality... It's been killing me. 

post #4 of 8

And all the places are packed full at all times.But then I ask myself how much can you really eat at once ?

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by berndy View Post

And all the places are packed full at all times.But then I ask myself how much can you really eat at once ?

 

I know that, but as a retired Chef, what would you recommend we change?

post #6 of 8

16 years is a long time. You must have been doing something right all these years. So give yourself credit for that. With that in mind, I would not worry about the buffets. Do what you do  and make sure you are continuing to do it well. Decline in business could be from a number of factors, not just the buffets. Start by taking an honest assessment of your place. After sixteen years, perhaps the dining room could use some freshening up. Does the front of the building and your restaurant look well maintained and inviting? Is the service everything it could be? Has the food begun to slip in quality? Identify where you tell yourself, "Well, that could be better but it isn't important",  Those are areas you should be addressing. A useful technique is to play being a customer in your own place from entering to having dinner all the way through to driving out of the parking lot. As you do so, write down any negatives you notice. Do this with the full knowledge of the staff so everyone is on board with the improvement effort. "That's the way we've always done it" is not constructive thinking. Best of all, doing this costs you nothing except your pride and may have tremendous returns.

Here in upstate NY the prevailing attitude supports alot of the buffet mentality. But those individuals who stand out do so by providing a quality experience from start to finish and there are more than enough customers to support them. Best of luck.

post #7 of 8

Chefwriter might be right and your dining room will profit from an owerhaul.

But my feeling is that you should look at your menu and rethink your way of serving great chinese food.

Do you want to stick with what and how you are serving it now ? How are your prices standing up to the competition ?

Most of today's customers do no longer want an old fashioned chinese restaurant menu and do prefer the buffet style offered all over the country.

It might be time for you too to switch and offer a buffet where the customers see what they can pick from.

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply
post #8 of 8

i'm not familiar  with the area but if it has been there for almost sixteen years it has been doing something right. being out by the airport is it a lot of transient business or is there a  neighbourhood with potential for repeat business?  you might have a hard time competing with the buffets but if you're offering real cantonese then you are in a different market anyway and need to let people know you're not a chicken ball/ chop suey  fast food place. do you offer dim sum on the week end? i agree with chefwriter that you probably need to redecorate and depending on where you are  you might want to bill yourself as authentic cantonese as opposed to people just assuming  you're a western style chinese restaurant ...... as you know there's a huge difference.hopefully enough people will decide on quality over quantity.

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