How did Golden Corral, the country’s biggest buffet chain, survive a pandemic in which it couldn’t operate much if not all of its buffets?
Lance Trenary, the chain’s CEO, answers that question on this week’s episode of the Restaurant Business podcast “A Deeper Dive.”
Golden Corral, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., had been doing fairly well before the pandemic, especially considering how much its primary competitors have struggled—in 2019 the typical buffet chain’s sales declined 9%, according to Technomic.
The pandemic threatened the chain’s very survival, leading to shutdowns or restrictions on buffet service that were so severe one competitor, Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, opted to liquidate rather than try to adjust to the change.
Trenary in this week’s episode describes everything Golden Corral did to keep the brand going, including shifts in operators, a focus on more entrees, and experiments such as alcohol and even drive-thru service.