What the future of buffet restaurants could look like

Coronavirus

Honolulu restaurants can resume dine-in service starting June 5th with restrictions, according to Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Although, he has not released exact guidelines for eateries.

But what about buffets? The mayor’s office said it is working on determining when and how they can safely reopen.

Governor David Ige said in a press conference today the future of self-serving style restaurants will be very different.

Ruby Tuesday owner Rick Nakashima said the restaurant is known for its fall-off-the-bone ribs and all-you-can-eat salad bar.

“I am worried that the initial response of the state and board of health will not allow us to have that open,” Nakashima said.

Part of the CDC reopening guidelines for restaurants includes, “avoiding self-serve stations.”

Governor Ige did not say when Hawaii buffets will be allowed to reopen, but he did say they will likely have to adjust operations.

“Certainly, buffets and the way they operate is not as protective as individual service of dinners. It would require different operation procedures in order to keep customers safe,” Ige said.

Nakashima said Ruby Tuesday has a plan if the salad bar can’t reopen fully.

“We already have a side caesar and two others, so we will probably expand that and hopefully be able to give people more options for salads,” Nakashima said.

The governor said CDC guidelines will make buffets harder to operate in the future.

“They talk about separating barriers. They talk about ability to sanitize the serving utensils between every customer, so there’s a lot of requirements that would make operating buffets more difficult,” Ige said in a press conference. “I think all of the restaurant food establishments would have to weigh changing how they operate versus the cost to implement some of these protective measures.”

In the future, Nakashima said there could be some major changes to buffet restaurants.

“Sneeze guards are going to be a big factor I think,” he said. “We may have to have disposable gloves, changing the tongs or someone just gets a tong as they start, so you’re not touching a tong that someone else touched. Obviously, if we don’t change the tongs, we’re going to have gloves, disposable gloves for everyone to use,” Nakashima said.

Nakashima added that Ruby Tuesday will follow every guideline the state asks them to, in order to ensure a safe experience for customers.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories