The All You Can Eat Buffet: A double edged sword…..and where to find them.

Rodizio on the buffet at Cygnus 27

I got to thinking about this today because it is Mother’s Day and restaurants often offer special Mother’s Day food buffets.I hear people constantly complain about the lack of quality AYCE buffets in the area, but this is a tricky thing.

People want to have an awesome selection of food that is cooked to the correct temperature, is fresh, never out of stock and all for a price of less than $10 (at least the frugal minded people of greater Grand Rapids), and we don’t want to wait too long to get it. AND CRAB LEGS!!! Everybody wants those. The Veruca Salt of eating, if you will. The problem with this scenario is that there are real logistical issue with all of this.

Custom omelet made by Elvis at Six One Six

The larger the buffet, the more people that are required to prepare the food and keep it fresh. Replacing popular items is constant work, and you also have to deal with people who are so afraid of eating a vegetable that they pick them away from meat and vegetable dishes. I.e. Cooks only preparing chicken to add to a picked over chicken and broccoli dish. If there is a lull in the action because of lack of patrons, the food becomes dry and undesirable and requires replacement. The food costs are large because not only are you paying for the food, you are paying for the wasted food. This means the wasted food on each plate and the leftovers at the end of the evening….and “WHERE ARE THE DAMN CRAB LEGS???” Oh, and keep it to $10, please.

Crab legs from Harvest Buffet. Photo Credit: Tawngela La-La Matthews

The good news for Mother’s Day, the thing that got me thinking of all of this, is that you have a large, built in audience who are all focused on one day and one person.  The most important person in most of their lives.  The AYCE buffet actually functions well on a day like today. Additionally, this is Mom that we are talking about. We will gladly pay the right price for food for mom on Mother’s Day. We wouldn’t cheap out on the woman we love, but what about the other 364 days a year?

Well, in spite of the challenges and complaints that come along with the All You Can Eat Buffet, several restaurants still take on this thankless task. Here is a list of places who are willing to take on this serving challenge on days other than Mother’s Day.


Curry Kitchen (Indian)
Curry Leaf (Indian)
Cygnus (World Fusion)
Emonae (Korean BBQ)
Fuji Buffet (Chinese/Japanese/American)
Ganders (American)
Harvest Buffet (Everything, and CRAB LEGS 2 days a week)
Hudsonville Grille (oatmeal)
Indian Masala (Indian)
India Town (Indian)
Lai Thai Kitchen (Thai)
Mandarin Chinese (Chinese)
Ming Ten (Chinese/Japanese)
Palace of India (Indian)
Pals (Indian)
Six One Six (American)
Tamales Mary (Mexican)
Taqueria El Rincon (Mexican)
Vitales (Italian)
Uccellos (Italian)

About the author.  Chris Freeman is a residential REALTOR in the Greater Grand Rapids area who has been blogging about the local food scene for the last 5 years.

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