Business Overview

A buffet restaurant is one where customers can fill their plates with a variety of food for a set price. Normally buffet restaurants pick a particular theme, such as Mexican or Chinese, and then choose different variations of standard dishes to offer. Buffets help communities by exposing them to different types of food without making them buy a full plate of something they may not like.

Who is this business right for?

This business is good for someone who loves giving customers a unique experience at a restaurant and wants to open up people's eyes to new forms of cuisine. Owners should also have an interest in food patterns, and how to get the best seasonal ingredients for the cheapest prices.

What happens during a typical day at a buffet restaurant?

A buffet restaurant owner may complete any of the following tasks in a given day:

  • Selecting buffet options
  • Maintaining buffet/cooking equipment
  • Hiring and managing employees
  • Completing safety inspections
  • Advertising the business

What is the target market?

Owners profit from families and individuals who see the benefits of buffets. Those who are big eaters can choose an All You Can Eat (AYCE) option. Those who have a difficult time deciding on a meal can instead try whatever they want, whenever they want it. Finally, many people use buffets as a way to try new foods. Most people won’t cook their own lobster or order an expensive meal in a restaurant, but they may choose a tail to try when they’re at a buffet to see if they like it.

How does a buffet restaurant make money?

Profits at a buffet restaurant (or any restaurant) can be slim. In fact, the high-end Vegas buffets typically lose money with their expensive menu options like Alaskan King Crabs and Wagyu beef to encourage gambling. Owners who don't work at a casino should price their buffet margins at about 70% or so to cover the cost of what’s on the plate, meaning if the cost of the food on a plate is about $3, then the customer should be paying about $10 for their meal. The additional 70% goes toward maintaining the restaurant’s daily operations.

What is the growth potential for a buffet restaurant?

Growth potential is possible with a steady clientele. Many of the most successful buffets are gathering places in communities, somewhere to go after church or on Fridays after a long work week. Loyal customers encourage newcomers to try your buffet offerings, and provids valuable word of mouth too.