12 Secrets of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets That Only Employees Know About

3 years ago

Every commercial kitchen has a lot of secrets, especially a system as popular as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Just like anything in the world, it has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should only go to the places that you can trust.

We at Bright Side are sure that we shouldn’t completely stop going to all-you-can-eat buffets, but it’s definitely something that we have to be more careful with. And at the end of the article, there is a bonus that will tell you about what some restaurant guests are ready to do to eat more food.

One meal can be used to make another.

  • Usually a good bit of the food gets repurposed, like say the fish dish on Monday will become fish pie or fish soup on Tuesday. Some buffet restaurants will then throw out the food that can’t be repurposed. © Terry Lo / Reddit

  • My buddy who worked at a buffet told me they used to make salad croutons out of the half-eaten pieces of bread that people left on their plates. © filthy_lucre / Reddit

Chocolate fountains are not safe in terms of hygiene.

  • The buffet I worked at had a chocolate fountain and half of my time on the clock was spent trying to keep customers from sticking their fingers and other nonfood items into the fountain. I distinctly remember one woman with a cast on her arm who came up and started to dip some strawberries into the fountain. The next thing I know, she manages to stick most of her cast under the fountain so that the thing was basically coated with chocolate. © Cursedknightartorias / Reddit

  • I was done eating and going for dessert and while I was approaching the chocolate fountain I was interested in trying, I watched a kid sneeze directly into it. No attempt to cover his mouth and his parents didn’t seem to care either. I was no longer interested in trying the chocolate fountain after that. © Indoorsman7 / Reddit

Some visitors try foods from the bowls.

  • Once, I went to this buffet that served a lunch special which included a huge variety of soups and salads. So, I got a plate and started assembling a salad when I caught a glimpse of an older Asian lady sipping on soups directly from the main pots, she sampled using the main ladle as well. So, she sampled all the soups, and the ones she didn’t like she poured back in the pots and walked away like it was something she had done before. © AmyAriztan / Reddit

  • A college friend worked at a Chinese buffet. He said that they caught a regular dipping his pizza in the wonton soup bowl (like, in the queue and not at his table) and eating it. Bite, dip, bite, dip, bite, dip. After the fourth time in a month that he did this, management finally kicked him out. © ndkjr70 / Reddit

  • The kid who was about 6 or 7 wanted some gummi bears. So he went to the dessert bar, grabbed the serving spoon of gummi bears, and started eating off it like the bears were cereal, double-dipping several times. The parents were laughing and told him to stop, so he spit a mouthful of gummi bears out back onto the spoon and put them back. © Elephant_Kisses2 / Reddit

There might be something else on the plates, not just food.

  • I cannot tell you how many times there has been a hair in the mac and cheese and if a customer complained about it, we would take the mac and cheese to the back, retrieve the hair, wait about 5 minutes, and then put the old stuff back out. ©_GottaCatchEmAll_ / Reddit

  • I remember eating at a buffet with my sister one time when we looked up, contemplating going to get more food, and we saw one of the employees hitting flies with one of those tennis racket bug zapper things... Over the food... We immediately stopped eating, paid, and left. We never went back. A few months later the place closed and has been abandoned for about 6 or 7 years.© cassievalor / Reddit

Perishable foods are not always treated properly.

  • Worked at an Indian buffet. Their food safety standards were... Substandard. A lot of things were unacceptable, but what stands out is a large bucket of yogurt that sat out “aging” for several days and was served at the buffet each day. Ever since that job, I can’t really stomach Indian food. © mgvertigo101 / Reddit

  • I didn’t have a job and I really needed money. So I took a cook position without really knowing what I was getting into. We served lots of fried chicken. And then I was told that it was bought from people selling foods that were going to go bad very soon. The food was cheap and terrible. © getyrock1200 / Reddit

Food and dishes sometimes end up on the floor.

  • I’ve seen people drop serving utensils on the floor, and then stick them back into the food. I’ve literally grabbed tongs out of a child’s hand before they could do it. I’m not replacing a whole pan of chicken if I don’t have to. © Atra_Lux / Reddit

  • A guy I worked with grabbed a frozen ham, threw it on the floor, and used it as a step stool as it sat in grey dirty scummy dishwater. It was served later that evening during the Saturday dinner rush. © Angryt0ast666 / Reddit

What the description says is not always true.

  • We served sausages at the breakfast buffet I worked on, for years we had people ask if they were pork or beef. Looking back, I know that these people likely had cultural beliefs or dietary restrictions as the reason for their asking. I was an uninformed (and young) cook who’d heard hours of chefs complaining about stupid useless dietary fads. So I told them what they wanted to hear. © terrerifiс / Reddit

  • Our university cafeteria had problems with mislabeling allergens on foods and I had to skip a lot of classes because of mislabeled foods that gave me allergic reactions. My friend once almost ate a fish stick that was labeled as chicken before she asked me to take a bite first and make sure she wouldn’t go into anaphylactic shock. © jazzyjazz7 / Reddit

Any mistake can be covered up.

  • Once, my manager didn’t thaw enough beef ribs for BBQ night on Saturday. He had racks and racks of icy ribs and couldn’t just toss them in the oven. So he did the next best thing. He deep-fried them. Slathered them in BBQ sauce and served them as is. Told us all not to say a word. But wow the customers LOVED the deep-fried ribs! Lots of regulars complimented the ribs. © BebopDC / Reddit

  • One of my friends at work dropped an entire prime rib on the floor and those things cost the owner about 100 dollars each. So he just told us to rinse it off and wrap it back up. © _GottaCatchEmAll_ / Reddit

A buffet may run out of food, not because it didn’t make enough but because some visitors don’t care about others.

  • My parents owned an all-you-can-eat buffet and I was there every day of my life from 4-14. My favorite horror story is when a couple came in to eat (obviously). They loved the crab legs and every time my mom put some out, they took ALL of them. Also, just a reminder, crab legs are expensive! Forget about the other customers, they just took them and ate them all. So they’re there for maybe 2 hours now and it’s getting dark. They’ve eaten through at least a week’s stock of crab legs and my mom finally decides it’s enough. She stops putting it out in the buffet and brings individual plates to the customers who wanted them, but couldn’t get any because of this couple. The couple gets angry. They literally flipped the chairs at their table, flipped their plates, bowls, cups, etc., and completely trashed their area. © blooberries1 / Reddit

Chinese buffets are the best.

  • I have been in the kitchens of pretty much every major restaurant and the buffets are always bad. The only exception is a locally run Chinese one. The owner is my hero, runs a clean kitchen too. © fischestix / Reddit

  • Chinese cuisine is very diverse. There are many different restaurants, street cafes, and boulevards where the ingredients are cooked. The food is often cooked right in front of you. And it’s done phenomenally. The workers are extremely professional and everything is delicious. © AndrewPro / Pikabu

In some restaurants, there are special rules for the visitors who put more food on their plate than they can eat.

  • In Rome, there’s a restaurant with a great buffet in the evening: 10 different kinds of shrimp and other seafood. There are a lot of other meals: sushi, meat, and salads. You pay once for the entrance, but they have a strict rule: you pay for all the food that is left on your plate after you eat. © gogadrow / Pikabu

  • You can be in the buffet for as long as you want. And nobody cares how much you eat. But there’s an unwritten rule: you should have an empty plate after you eat. This means you shouldn’t take more food than you can eat. © AndrewPro / Pikabu

The visitors that are nice might even get a pleasant surprise.

  • My sister and I went to Home Town Buffet for a very late lunch. We wanted their salad bar, which in this particular location is very good. We also took small portions of the lunch buffet like grilled chicken, potatoes, a taste of the macaroni and cheese. We were there at around 3:30 PM, due to our hectic schedule that day. At 4 PM, the selections were starting to change, because 5 PM would bring the dinner menu. Rather than ask us to leave, the manager came to our table and invited us to partake in the additional/different dishes coming out of the kitchen. He knew we weren’t there to stuff ourselves. © Cardinal Robbins / Quora

Bonus: Some guests try to eat more, even if they are not hungry anymore.

  • I had a co-worker that briefly managed a buffet. He said that it was fairly common for people to gorge themselves, then purge in the restroom, and start eating again so that they could “get their money’s worth.” © obeyyourbrain / Reddit

  • My mom used to work at a place with an all-you-can-eat buffet and I remember her constantly telling me stories about how people went to the toilet to puke so they could eat more — it’s so crazy in my opinion. © Pedrojalapa / Reddit

What’s your attitude toward all-you-can-eat buffets? Maybe you also know some secrets? Share them in the comment section below!

Preview photo credit Northamerica1000 / Wikimedia


Get notifications

A Chinese restaurant in our old neighbourhood had an all you can eat buffet every Thursday. Plot twist, you could only stay 2h. After that they would ask you to leave


Related Reads