A vertical shot of a buffet with Chinese food and dim sum items
The Top 12 Red Flags To Look Out For When Eating At A Buffet
By Carly Terzigni
Buffets can be a good dining option, but there are some things you should look out for when arriving, like how limited the hours are. When buffets only operate during limited hours (like weekends), it may be a sign that they are relying on leftover food from the previous day, and while day-old food isn’t dangerous, it certainly isn’t fresh.
Limited Hours
Whether it’s exclusively a buffet or a regular restaurant, an unclean restaurant is a bad sign, but some signs are easier to see than others. Tell-tale signs include an unkempt exterior, questionable odor, how the tables are bussed, and whether there is any soap in the dispensers in the bathroom.
Restaurants must comply with standards set by the Food and Drug Administration which are enforced via regular inspections, where businesses receive a letter grade (A, B, or C) or a specific number grade. The lower the grade, the more it will indicate that the business in question is not operating at its most optimal.
Poor Inspection Grade
Due to the nature of buffets, you probably won’t interact with servers much, but you should still see a healthy amount of staff on the floor. A lack of employees could be a major indication that the restaurant is not operating well, not to mention it means that any staff that is there will be stretched thin, which can lead to slow service.
Not Enough Servers
Most buffets ask diners to use a new plate each time they go up for more food and leave the dirty ones, so you’d assume they’d be well-stocked with clean plates. If you notice a lack of clean dishes, that may be an indication that they’re too low-staffed to replace plates efficiently, or that operations are not entirely up to snuff.
Not Enough Clean Plates