By ABC News
(LAS VEGAS) — The sun may be setting on going to the buffet to fill an oversized platter with an aggressive hodgepodge of breakfast foods or selectively sifting through a salad bar to build the perfect plate of greens now that the government is releasing new food safety rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a world where 6 feet of space and other social-distancing measures matter more than ever, diners may have to 86 the self-service options.
The Food and Drug Administration released new guidance for restaurants as they reopen during the pandemic and it included “discontinuing operations, such as salad bars, buffets, and beverage service stations that require customers to use common utensils or dispensers.”
Restaurants, hotels, casinos and other eateries with all-you-can-eat self-service options have had to reimagine their approach, while some have decided to close shop for good.
Las Vegas is home to an array of award-winning, over-the-top buffet options and as Nevada eased restrictions for restaurants and welcomed back diners, one hotel has come up with a way to get hungry customers their fill.
The Wynn will be the first buffet on the Strip to reopen on Thursday and announced its full plans and menu to give people a taste of the full food experience, without ever leaving their seats.
The buffet menu, which includes over 90 all-you-can-eat dishes, will be served tableside with the option to reorder unlimited items within a two-hour period.
The savory side of the menu boasts foods from soups, salads and charcuterie to fresh pizzas and pastas, like the lobster ravioli with roasted red peppers and fennel, finished with saffron sauce. And of course, sushi and chilled seafood.
The desserts section of the menu includes cakes, tarts, bread pudding, 13 ice cream and sorbet flavors, chocolate-dipped Rice Krispies treats, crème brulee and more.
Under new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and both local and state health officials, the dining room will have tables spaced out to maintain social distancing, disposable single-use menus and QR code downloadable menus.
It wouldn’t be a Vegas brunch buffet without drinks, so the Wynn has also added a “limitless pour” alcohol package for beer, wine and signature cocktails.
The Wynn requires reservations to expedite entry for the buffet and dining room.
While the new dining experience takes loading up your own plate out of the service equation, it’s better than the alternative — not reopening at all.
Last month, Southern Californians lost beloved buffet restaurant chain Souplantation due to COVID-19 when its owners announced it would permanently close all 97 locations.
“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” John Haywood, CEO of the restaurant’s parent company, Garden Fresh, said in a statement. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.”
“We could’ve overcome any other obstacle, and we’ve worked for eight weeks to overcome these intermittent financial challenges but it doesn’t work if we are not allowed to continue our model,” Haywood said.
Other restaurant chains known for endless buffet service, like Golden Corral, have also had to adjust in the coronavirus era.
While some locations announced they would permanently close, others shifted to a no-touch model similar to a cafeteria-style food service.
The company has also since added delivery and to-go orders to its dining options and partnered with third-party services like Uber Eats.
While many continue to adjust to the new normal, restaurants and especially buffets will continue to evolve to keep customers and servers happy and healthy.
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