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Advantages and Disadvantages of All You Can Eat Buffets for Restaurants

Dec 21, 2022 | 0 comments

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Dec 21, 2022 | Essays | 0 comments

a) Effect of an all-you-can-eat buffet

Many entrepreneurs often imagine that an all-you-can-eat buffet is quite costly. However, this strategy will prove to be quite cost-effective for the restaurant. An all-you-can-eat buffet allows for cost-cutting on various other aspects. For example, the restaurant can easily diminish the cost of labor and training. Often presentation of food by waiters requires that more waiters are employed to serve particular areas. On the other hand, a buffet means that the customers are serving themselves, and there is no need for trained waiters.

The cost of purchase of food will also decrease significantly. Two things happen concurrently on this factor when an all-you-can-eat buffet is introduced. First, the buffet attracts two types of customers. The first is the customer who cannot afford the food on the a’ la carte menu. The next is just the customer who wishes to eat more and save. The cost of the food must therefore be calculated to include the saving carefully and manage the cost of the food. The cost of food is such that the customers cannot consume as much food as they originally imagined. The food is purchased by the restaurant in plenty which reduces the cost significantly. It is also easier for the manager to calculate immediate profit as food is prepared in bulk.

With an all-you-can-eat buffet, it is easy for the restaurant to attract new customers. With this strategy especially, the restaurant will attract families and groups who wish to enjoy a meal together. This, in turn, translates to immediate profit.

ii) Statistics on food costs for a la carte menu

The below table shows an example of the expected changes in food expenditure from the popular meals in the restaurant. The analysis shows a conclusion with expected significant decreases in meal purchasing costs.

Purchasing price in traditional menu Purchasing price in a la carte menu difference %
Appetizers Sottish salmon

Chilled Jumbo

Duck liver pate




















Gazebo salad

Caesar salad

Anjou Pear













Main courses Roasted rack of lamb

Fresh Dover sole

Chicken breast


Roasted duck





















b) i) Labor Costs

A purely a’ la carte menu has proven difficult to maintain regarding labor costs. To begin with, the kitchen staff has included more than three chefs to manage various aspects of the menu. In addition, there has been increased training to improve the various dishes. With the menu requiring specific attention, there has also been needing to employ servers and helpers in the kitchen. Unfortunately, this has severely crippled the ability of the manager to increase profits. The introduction of the all-you-can-eat buffet means less preparation is required. The number of chefs can easily be reduced, and kitchen assistants could also be reduced. The menu can be decided beforehand, allowing for easier preparation of the food well before time. There is also no need for servers in the kitchen. The kitchen budget is likely to go down by more than 30%.

The next labor cost to take effect will be the waiter’s menu. According to (Gupta 2009), an a la carte menu often requires elaborate preparation, presentation, and presentation. Waiters are required to be many to allow for efficient service to the customers. Often the restaurant has to train the waiters to allow for efficiency and quality of service. This kind of service often attracts high-end clients, although they come in few numbers stifling the profit. On the other hand, the buffer does not require special training; customers serve themselves what they desire to eat and, as such, require fewer waiters. The restaurant can be managed with even 25% of the current waiters.

ii) Buffet Versus A’ La Carte

The majority of restaurants often start with an a’ la carte menu. This menu is designed to determine the tastes of the clientele. Clients order what they desire and how they would like it direct from the menu. A unique a la carte menu is likely to cater to various unique needs of the clientele. In essence, this is a requirement for every restaurant. However, maintaining an a la carte menu has proven difficult, especially for the restaurant. As (Scanlon 1993) points out, constant changes and creativity are required to maintain a unique menu. This means a constant change in staff training to maintain excellence in service provision. The plates must be right, the cutlery must match each dish, and therefore, the knowledge required for the same must be excellent.

On the other hand, a buffet menu which often does not take precedence in a restaurant, is easier to manage. The food is prepared in bulk, and as long as the quality is maintained, customers will continue to flow in. a buffet menu is ideal for customers and clients who dine and eat as a group. This could include families and even co-workers. However, this does not mean the restaurant can ignore the need for uniqueness. The buffet menu must also be unique to attract the right client and decrease the leftover. With a buffet, the restaurant enjoys the inflow of clients and a decrease in cost and strain of management. Restaurants often introduce the buffet menu as a short-term offer; however, once the benefits are seen, the buffet joins the main menu.

iii) Overall Cost Of Food

Bulk purchases: a buffet menu allows the restaurant to take advantage of bulk purchases. Fresh food purchased in bulk allows for lower costs of the same food when it is purchased in smaller quantities. Suppliers can be persuaded to decrease their purchase costs, which in turn increases profits. A common error, however, for many restaurants is that they purchase too much food in bulk. While the cost may decrease significantly, the restaurant also experiences losses through spoilt products. In addition, without fresh food, clients are most likely to elect other restaurants from which to eat.

Preparation: An a la carte menu normally requires a lot of preparation. Chefs have to endure hours of preparation, and service also takes time. The problem is that this reparation often plays a part in determining the cost of food. With a buffet menu, the cost is far less because the food preparation is done easily. The menu is determined beforehand; for example, salads are chosen and prepared together for all customers. This is unlike when a customer orders and the chefs then begin preparation at that time.

iv) Amount Of Food To Be Prepared

Perhaps the most difficult part of preparing a buffet menu is determining the amount of food to be prepared for the buffet. Restaurants often make the mistake of preparing too much food to attract more customers. However, just because it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet does not mean all patrons will fill their plates to the brim. To avoid leftovers and carry over, it is best, to begin with small amounts of popular meals. With time, the food can be increased to cater to the increasing demand for extra food.

In addition, while considering the importance of variety in the menu, too much variety can be harmful. Patrons, for example, do not need five types of rice. Instead, it might be wise to select the top two and keep varying the dish. This keeps the menu exciting from day to day while at the same time ensuring that there is little if any, carry-over to the following day.

v) Strategy

Restaurants are often faced with the problem of managing costs in order to increase profits. Even with minimal loss, a restaurant can easily be crashed and be brought down. In this case, there was a need to draw more customers and consumers. Average consumers, however, who are mostly the biggest spenders when it comes to eating out are more focused on cost. To attract this average spender, it would have been wise to focus more on snacks and light meals, which are cheaper, easier to prepare, and often draw a larger clientele.

Further, it could be wise to begin a delivery system, where customers can order from the menu and enjoy the same meals in the comfort of their homes. Often patrons would not like to drag around children and even themselves from the comfort of their homes. (Gordon and Brezinski 1999) Shows that an efficient delivery system will likely draw more clients and patrons. As opposed to a buffet menu, delivery promises the luxury of excellent food without the hustle of preparation or even the strain of leaving the comfort of our home. Further delivery can be used to venture into small business catering. With a restaurant, diversity in delivery and service provision is the key to success.


Gordon, R. T., & Brezinski, M. H. (1999). The complete restaurant management guide. Armonk, N.Y: Sharpe Professional.

Gupta, V. K. (2009). Restaurant management. Chandni Chowk, Delhi: Global Media.

Scanlon, N. L. (1993). Restaurant management. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

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