These Adored Buffet Restaurants Are Now Closed for Good
Editor's note: A previous version of this story said Golden Corral filed for bankruptcy, but to clarify, it was a franchise company that did so. Golden Corral Corporation reached out to ETNT! with the below statement:
Metro Corral Partners, a Golden Corral® franchise entity, notified us in advance of their intention to file voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization. We are working with the Metro Corral leadership team and anticipate that they will continue to operate 24 of their 33 Golden Corral franchised locations in Georgia and Florida. "The pandemic's business impact on our segment has been significant," said Golden Corral Corporation CEO Lance Trenary. "Recovery has been steady, but slow, and some franchisees will not be able to continue to operate without additional financial relief."
As of today, 284 Golden Corral dining rooms have safely reopened across the country. New service models have been developed to comply with variations in local guidelines and provide our guests an enjoyable Golden Corral experience. Models include "no-touch" buffet service where guests use a disposable glove or napkins when handling serving utensils or a "we serve you" buffet, which features endless helpings and eliminates a guest's need to touch serving utensils. Regardless of the service approach, all utensils are changed out every 20 minutes, and new social distancing and enhanced sanitation protocols are in place at all restaurants. Enhanced delivery, takeout, and curbside pick-up are available at all locations. As always, the safety of our teams, guests, and communities remains our highest priority.
At the beginning of October, news surfaced that Metro Corral Partners, which owns over 24 locations of the iconic buffet and grill Golden Corral, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Almost $50 million in debt is weighing the parent company, 1069 Restaurant Group, down. Although locations in Florida and Georgia are closing, there are plans to keep over 20 locations open. It's been a tough year for all-you-can-eat neighborhood restaurants, and there are four other buffet closures to know about. Two HomeTown Buffets, one Ryan's, and one Old Country Buffet are now buffets closed for good.
The HomeTown Buffets in Chula Vista, and Bakersfield, Calif., the Ryan's in Charleston, W. Va., and The Old Country Buffets in Chicago were hit hard by the pandemic. The locations are permanently closed as of Oct. 9. Parent company VitaNova Brands, based in San Antonio, Texas, announced the closures, saying it allows them to focus on a new line of restaurants. (These aren't the only eateries to say goodbye to, here are 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)
VitaNova shut down the locations in March when the coronavirus pandemic began. All four haven't seen a customer since. Employees were furloughed then, but all have been notified that the four are now buffets closed for good. The company is compensating all vacation, sick time, and any other benefits.
"This was an incredibly difficult decision but these locations were already suffering from declining sales before the pandemic," Jason Kemp, the VitaNova Brands president says in a statement, "with expiring leases without our ability to extend under favorable terms, we needed to make the tough call to redirect our resources to other locations in order to continue to operate our restaurants under our new concept of AYCE (all-you-can-eat) and Marketplace."
The company also has TogoKitchens.com, Zio's Italian Kitchen, Sushi Zushi, Tahoe Joe's, Don Pablo's Cantina, Hometown AYCE Marketplace, Old Country AYCE Marketplace, Furr's AYCE Marketplace, and Ryan's AYCE Marketplace in their restaurant lineup.
According to its website, there currently are 14 Ryan's buffet locations in 10 states. There are also 16 Old Country Buffets locations in 10 states. Three states have 28 Hometown Buffets. California alone has 23. A majority of these are reopening soon.