Lets talk about lunch buffets.

I would like to hear from shop owners who have done or are currently doing a pizza buffet for lunch. I know that lunch is typically the trouble time for pizza shop owners and some do the “all you can eat” buffet.

How much profit is there in the buffet? I worry that some big huge fat guy and his friends come in and kills your profit.

Who has done it in the past and stopped and why?

where i’m at my buffet hasn’t been helping to much think i might just close for lunch. but anyone interested in a pizza buffet that has a small salad bar attached to it and a well for pasta or soup contact me mines for sale also have a stand alone salad bar.(if interested i can e-mail pics)

I run a lunch buffet that has done very well. I think the key to my success is that I decided from the start to go all out. I purchased an 18 foot salad bar and top of the line warmers which allow me to have 12 large pizzas (14") out during my rush period. We will make almost any pizza a customer asks for, even if it is not profitable at that particular moment, but our goal is to have that customer come back and bring friends. My food cost run 40% during lunch, but my labor is 18%. You do not need a lot of help to throw in pizzas, and a big plus is you never have a wrong order.

I really believe that my lunch buffet has helped my night business as well. People will come in and give you a try for $8 when they can get a great salad and some pizza. The bonus is if they like your pizza they will call at night where you profit margin is much higher.

Price is why they buy . . . volume is why you sell. If you can move butts through the door, then it will be have a shot at overcoming the challenging proposition of overcoming waste and cost of food.

Choose your price carefully if you do decide to do buffet. If you choose a low price to match your competitors, what are you saying about what your product is really worth? On the other hand, if its too high, you won’t have any lunch buffet business.

You might also scope out other places in town that have buffet. See how they are doing both during buffet and non-buffet hours. If the majority of them are busy during buffet but dead at night when no buffet, maybe you should stay away from the buffet idea.

Since we’re talking about buffets, here is an example of how to mess it up, and pis off your customers: There is a fairly large Oregon based, mostly statewide chain in town, and their big thing is an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet. They feature both thin and thick crust pizzas, chicken, pasta, cinnamon rolls, etc, etc. The problem is that they close at 9:00pm, so they don’t put out any food after 8:00, and they break down the buffet at 9:00pm. What’s the problem? They offer (at full price) the buffet until, you guessed it, 9:00pm. Which means anyone who comes in after 8:00pm only gets sparse left over food. And anyone who buys in at 8:55 has virtually NO selection, AND only five minutes to eat. If they had any sense, they wouldn’t sell full-price buffets after 8:00, but obviously…

There is a place in town here that did that same thing with their buffet…since they closed at 10…it was like 830-900 when they would stop restocking food. I will take a little credit here…a friend of my wifes is a manager at a staffing company and we were at dinner one night about two years ago and this conversation came up because he had about 8 pt employees working at this place and they were suppose to get hours past closing and since the place would clear out by 9 they never would. After a little talking…I said why not just offer something like half-price buffet from 9 till the food is gone. Use your head and refill the basics to keep the customers happy but cut the price and move out the soon to be thrown out food for at least break-even. He mentioned it to the owner and it wasn’t a month when the ad campaign was up and running and still is going. I do not know what the numbers look like…but 2 years later and still going must mean something.