Buffet on a budget

So November 30th will be a year! Thanks to all for your insightful help. I’m looking to drive our lunch sales and I had a guy come in who owns a profitable pizzeria in Omaha, he said after doing a lunch buffet his lunch sales are up 40%. We are an upscale mostly dine in place and I don’t want to cheapen that image but I do want to be able to build lunch sales, as now we are only doing about 350/day in lunch. I don’t have a whole lot of money to do a build out or buy expensive equipment so I’m hoping someone has ideas for a budget buffet. I’m thinking caesar or house salad, garlic knots, and 3 different pizzas for 10 including drink. We are Chicago style cracker crust so I worry about pizza getting soggy.

We’ve done a lunch buffet for the last few years and just expanded it to dinner hours to a solid response:

We have a full-sized steam table, 2 hot plates (with 6 heat lamps overhead also) and a drop-in freezer-rail chiller that holds 6 or so full-sized pans. Out of that we offer breadsticks, 7 pizzas (3 meat, 3 veggie & 1 vegan), cheesesticks, monkey bread and a salad bar with 9 different dressings. In colder months, we will also put out a 3-well steam table for soups.

The key is to figure out what the average patron consumes (we know that our average customer eats 5 slices of a 14" pizza cut into 12 slices), add in waste (pulling “stale” product and food leftover at the end) and dial in your food cost. We’ve raised prices twice from where we started to get our cost in line as we’ve tweaked the offerings. Anticipating and controlling that waste is something you really have to stay on top of. On slower days we try to start off and finish with smaller 12" pizzas in order to keep everything stocked but minimize the waste.

Thanks for the response, I don’t quite have the capitol to buy all that equipment. Do you think chafing dishes would do the trick?

Put your pizzas on a screen to serve them vs tray, They will stay crisp 3x longer

You could do a sterno flame under a raised pizza stand like this: http://cloud.foodista.com/content/images/6f030404979e25c374987c47892563df200ec40f_607x400.jpg
but I would think your health department would want some kind of cover or sneeze guard over the food in a buffet setting.

Our problem is that the pizzas tend to get too crisp, they dry out and harden. Maybe a screen over the pan would keep them tender longer?

crispy I want! we do cracker crust here