Restaurants | Food

What Your Favorite Buffet Place Isn't Telling You

There's nothing that gets my mouth watering faster than the words "buffet". Just knowing that there's a seemingly endless supply of food to devour gets me excited, even though I rarely eat any more than I would have if I just ordered a standard plate.

Sound familiar?

Most of us love buffets and fall for the trick of "All You Can Eat". We're willing to pay more for the promise of eating until we can't take it anymore, but very few customers ever get their money's worth. It's not a fluke either, restaurants actually have a number of clever ways to trick you during a buffet.

We've given you some tips about Chinese Buffets before, but this might help you get more bang for your buck next time you dine out.

Small Plates

Plates
Sundial Beach Resort

You've no doubt heard some piece of advice telling you not to fill your plate. The more on your plate the more likely you are to overeat. It's good advice for when you're trying to lose weight, but it's not going to help you at the buffet line.

That's because buffets normally use specially produced smaller plates and bowls. Think about it, does your plate pile up unreasonably fast? Have you get gotten a full bowl of soup or chili when you laddled it in? Probably not.

That's because smaller plates slow down how fast people eat, the slower they eat, the less they eat, and that's not the only trick that has to do with size.

Glasses for water and soft drinks are normally huge. That's not just so they have to refill them less, it's because if a customer fills up on Coke they probably aren't going for that second helping of prime rib.

Filler

Potatoes
Midtown Lunch

There's a lot more to a restaurant's trickery than messing with plate sizes. Next time you're at a buffet line take a look at how they have it all set up. Chances are the dishes of potatoes, rice or other starches are going to be filled to the brim. When we're helping ourselves to a full dish of food, we're likely to take more of it.

The reverse is also true. Meat dishes or more expensive ones, are generally only half-filled. No one wants to be rude so a customer might skip over it entirely, or only take a small serving of a nearly empty dish.

Service

Waiter
New York Daily News

Have you ever been left waiting for a refill, your plates to be cleared or a waiter to bring over a new fork? You might think that you just were getting bad service, but a study actually showed that restaurants limit the availability of knives and forks during a buffet to slow down eating.

Meanwhile at Chinese Buffets chopsticks are readily available, likely because they are slower to eat with than knives and forks.

Cost Fallacy

Menu
Yelp

One big reason that All-You-Can-Eat Buffets make money is actually found in your mirror. That's right, it's you! A study of an Italian Buffet showed that the less a buffet cost, the more likely it was to be rated as poor, or unsatisfactory - despite serving the exact same food. In short, the more we pay the more we want to say we liked something. Obviously there's a tipping point, and buffets have to find that sweet spot.

Think about it, does that line of reason apply to you too?

[Source: Psychology Today]

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