This Nearly-Extinct Type of Restaurant Is Making a Comeback, New Data Shows

From staff shortage to supply chain problems, COVID-19 has had a major impact on restaurants and how they work.

With eating restrictions in major cities leading many to opt for takeout, buffets may now seem a thing of the past. But new data from Yelp shows they may, in fact, bounce back a bit.

The Yelp Economic Average Report 2021 examined consumer interest in the review platform to track the ongoing impact of the pandemic on restaurants — and found that interest in buffets increased by 31% from the fourth quarter of 2020.

“For those who ventured, we saw an increase in consumer interest in dining options previously disrupted by social distancing guidelines,” report states. Keep reading to find out what else Yelp’s report found out about buffet restaurants, then check out the 8 Worst Fast Food Burgers To Stay Away Right Now.

To collect the information, Yelp looked at the search terms users entered through the platform. In addition to the increased interest in buffets, users also expressed interest in dinner theater, running band sushi and food courts (a la Costco’s food court, which is a big hit among members). Obviously diners are going to miss the pre-pandemic, sit-down, casual style of dining out.

Overall, 2021 underlined how the pandemic, coupled with supply chain and labor restrictions, and pent-up demand are complicating economic recovery,” the report continues. “Business openings moved closer to pre-pandemic levels and vaccinations have played a key role in enabling many to return to personal activities that were restricted just a year ago.”

If this new data is any indication, we could see an increase in the popularity of buffet restaurants in the near future. That is, if the once-popular eatery still has locations.

As we reported before, since 2018, the once-popular buffet chain, Golden Corral, has a footprint that has “shrunk by more than 25%, with most of the losses occurring in the past two years. Last month, the buffet chain reported a system-wide total of 360 restaurants, with 80 restaurants lost to pandemic closures.”

While the buffet’s future is uncertain, it’s possible that an increase in diner interest could help keep these nearly extinct restaurants afloat.

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