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Why do people go to All-You-Can-Eat Buffets?

I'm a journalist gathering opinions/quotes for a story I'm working on, hope the Chowhound community will help!

I'm working on a story about All You Can Eat (AYCE) buffets. If you like going to AYCE buffets, I want to know why. Why (or when) do you go to an AYCE buffet rather than a regular restaurant?

Also want to survey: how much do you eat at AYCE buffets? More or less than usual? If more, why? If less, how do you control yourself?

And if anyone owns or runs an AYCE buffet would love to hear from you on what that's like!

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  1. I think Americans in particular love bargains, getting their money's worth at all costs and are prone to over eating.
    I remember going to all included "soup to nuts" restaurants as a kids, and come hell or high water, my mom would always fit dessert in at the end.
    She was a depression era baby, so I think that played a big part in how she viewed money and anything considered "waste".

    1. Cheap eats, hopefully with good food... that said, cheap food, and all Chinese,in my case, all tasted the same...was it worth it....yes...but not high on my list of recommendations.... it was a cheap lunch for crying out loud.....
      I was amazed at all of the HUGE ppl in green spandex loading their plates with starch... they stayed away from the protein selections....which weren't so wonderful...just below average...what do you want for a $7.00 buffet....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Raffles

        DH and I miss our AYCE Chinese lunch buffet where we used to live.

      2. Often while traveling, the AYCE breakfast is the fastest way to go. And yes, we do tend to eat more there to "get our money's worth" as the buffets are often more expensive than a sit down breakfast would be.

        On other occasions the AYCE works better for me when I am on Atkins. I can have all the protein I want - sliced meats, chicken, etc. and the family can have whatever else they might be interested in.

        25 Replies
        1. re: mrsphud

          Hampton Inns does a more friendly diabetic menu, according to a friend who cares...good breakfast with meats... just saying...

          Breakfast only..

          1. re: Raffles

            We just stayed a a Hampton Inn and the breakfast was quite decent, I must say.
            Good protein options, with scrambled eggs and breakfast meats.
            Of course, DH went right for the waffles. I think half of it is that he gets a kick out of making them with the flipping waffle maker.

            1. re: monavano

              Hampton Inn was the first national budget hotel/motel chain to offer the free breakfast which eventually came to mean 'make your own waffles, etc. I would guess that every other budget hotel/motel chain owner(s) would like to go back in time and shoot the person at Hampton who decided the free breakfast was a good idea.

            2. re: Raffles

              I stayed at a Hampton's Inn in Indianapolis a few years ago. I caught a cold mid trip and their breakfast buffet was a godsend. I was able to stock my room refrigerator with juice, fruit and cereal. The food was good enough given the variety and cost.

              1. re: Raffles

                La Quinta Inns also serve a buffet style breakfast and they are pet friendly, to boot.

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  The ones we've been to (traveling with the dogs) have DIY waffle, bagel, etc. I wouldn't really call that a buffet. But I like it. And it's a nice property

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Aren't all buffets DIY? True, they do have a limited number of dishes in addition to the couple you mentioned. The one we stayed at before moving here also had hot/cold cereal and hard boiled eggs.

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      I think of true breakfast buffets as being the ones with steam table food. Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, etc.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        You're describing a 'grand buffet' while Hampton is more 'mini'.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            C, I'll bet you are glad you offered your opinion! :-) It is no wonder why some discontinue to post.

                            1. re: Fowler

                              Oh, lordy, yes. I'll be un-gold-starring this quite soon ;)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                And you brought dogs! No wonder you didn't get the grant buffet.
                                (this obviously is sarcasm)

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  Well, the dogs get their own "buffet" in our room :)

                      2. re: mucho gordo

                        This likely won't count as a buffet, but it wasn't DIY either-

                        I walked into a hole-in-the-wall in Jaipur, India, and didn't order anything. A couple of waiters came by and gave me a vegetarian thali. Whenever I finished one part of the tray, someone would come by with a stainless steel jug and refill it, until I said I was satisfied. That was the equivalent of about US$.90. Jolly good too.

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          Well, some buffets the waffles are pre-cooked or cooked for you, rather than DIY.

                          I was at a Holiday Inn Express that had a pancake making machine: push a button and in a minute a freshly made pancake would slide out. That was way cooler than a flip-waffle maker!

                          https://www.google.com/search?q=panca...

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            ooh do they sell those retail for home applications?

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I have not seen these pancake machines, but I will look for them.

                              My SIL gave one of the upside down waffle makers to my father. I think he used it once when they visited.

                              1. re: John E.

                                I just have a regular waffle maker. I use it maybe 3 times a year. But when I'm in the mood for waffles what are you going to do.... sadly its a mickey mouse one from my marriage some 20 years ago..... I like stabbing mickey in the eye while I put butter on.

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  that just made me laugh out loud. My husband said "whats so funny?" I loved explaining that one!

                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                    Maybe Mickey can revitalize his career as a Hathaway shirt model, with an eye patch.

                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                      On craigslist and other auctions you can pick up a full commercial electric Waffle maker pretty cheap if your patient. One of my brother in laws is in the food industry and said just mix in some Ovaltine malted chocolate into the batter to add the malt flavor and your in business.

                                          1. re: coney with everything

                                            yeah what genius in marketing hired THAT industrial design firm, "we're trying to create a BRAND here people!"

                        2. I have a illness that prevents me from eating at buffets anymore but when I did I liked them for the variety and ability to take as little or as much as I want. To me it's like going to a potluck but you know how clean the kitchen is. And to answer your second question, I definitely ate much more than usual.

                          1. I like them because I love the "try a little bit of everything" style of eating. I really don't think I end up eating considerably more than a main dish + side type of dining, however usually those are often more than a person needs, too. :)

                            Everytime I go, though, I am always excited, and then start sampling dishes and reminded of the utterly mediocre food, and walk out saying "Not worth the bother". But then a year or two later I give it another go.