Buffet restaurants can reopen in Toronto but few are back in business
Buffets have the green light to reopen under Step 3 of Ontario's plan but the self-serve options are a bit harder to find now in Toronto.
Step 3 of the plan starts on July 16, and indoor dining is coming back with up to 25 per cent capacity or up to a maximum limit of 250 people (whichever is less) under provincial regulations.
The regulations don't specifically mention buffet restaurants but they are allowed to reopen, Ivana Yelich, executive director of media relations for the Office of the Premier of Ontario tells blogTO.
But just because they are allowed to open doesn't mean people will go — for some people the thought of a communal buffet table is just not appealing.
When indoor dining restarted last August, the Mandarin choose not to open the buffet but instead offered "Small Eats."
The Small Eats option continues for dine-in customers with 70 Mandarin classics offered on a pay-per-eat small plates from $1.99 to $4.99. The restaurant has several COVID-19 protocols in place for dine-in safety.
But the Mandarin later announced that they would be doing buffet at some restaurants on the weekends.
Over the lockdown many restaurants didn't make it. Places known for their huge buffets such as Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill closed. Last year, the grill's owner Fred Lee told blogTO the future rules around buffets were just too precarious for self-serve buffets to stay open during COVID-19.
"There's no protocol for us to open yet," said Lee. "And even if we open, the volume is not going to [support] us to continue."
The iconic, Frankie Tomatto’s also didn't make it after 25 years in the buffet business. Owner Hal Roback told blogTO large group gatherings and family meals made up about 50 per cent of their business.
There are still restaurants serving all-you-can eat.
Dragon Pearl Buffet announced it was serving all-you-can eat on their patio.
But there is no going to the buffet table.
"All orders are made-to-order and get deliver to your table directly!" the website reads.
For those who love meat, Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse announced they are reopening July 17 for dine-in all-you-can-eat.
Jerusalem Restaurant on Leslie Street is reopening for dine-in on July 16 with a hot buffet table.
Hot Pot restaurants are another option for shared meals but only with your table-mates.
Da Hu Hot Pot announced it is reopening for authentic Chongqing hotpot on July 16.
Whatever your comfort level, it will be nice to return to some normalcy and meet friends for a meal out again.
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