ENGLEWOOD, COLORADO -- Let me start by saying we have a Golden Corral and Old Country Buffet within a short driving distance from where we live. I've already written a review of Golden Corral, which sadly to say was not a pleasant experience. When my kids were younger we used to visit Old Country Buffet but steadily became less and less impressed with the food and service provided. So, for a few years we simply quit going there. Fast forward to 2013 and my kids now have kids of their own and we recently visited Old Country Buffet once again. The difference between what I remember some time ago and now is absolutely striking.
The entire restaurant has been remodeled on the inside since I was there last time and is now open, airy and well lit. The staff was friendly and very helpful. The hot food is indeed hot, which some years ago was not always the case. For health reasons it's important to keep hot food at a certain temperature and I'm happy to say that seems to be the case now. All the food was presented in a visually pleasant manner, which got the hunger pangs going. Food was replenished quickly by employees with plastic gloves for cleanliness. Serving spoons were changed as needed, which is something I quickly notice in any restaurant/buffet.
There constantly seemed to be employees cleaning, which is important to an enjoyable dining experience. The cold foods were kept nice and cool on beds of ice in an visually appetizing manner. There seems to be a couple of new salad items added to the line-up, which was nice to see.
Oh, then came the deserts. There are definitely new desert choices to choose from, which makes picking only one or two virtually impossible. One thing I notice with the cake and pie choices was a full size cake or pie was presented along with the individual items. It just seemed to add to the whole desert atmosphere. In the end I somehow managed to make a choice and was very pleased with the taste. There are the old favorites to choose from in the drinks department, along with some new items. I was definitely impressed with the choices and presentation.
All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised with everything Old Country Buffet has done and added to their menu line-up. If the NEW Old Country Buffet continues with their new food items and improved service we will most certainly be back. For now though I'm only giving them 4 stars out of a possible five - the future will tell where this is bumped up or not.
BENSALEM, PENNSYLVANIA -- I am writing this on behalf of my good friend who does not have online access. My friend (a senior citizen with a heart condition) & mutual friends (total of 9 in their party) went to this restaurant for Father's Day dinner 6/20/2010. One of the food servers was sweltering as she was clearing the table. The air conditioning did not appear to be working & salad bar food was all warm. Their discomfort was not alleviated even when moving to another table. Management was deaf to their complaints about the lack of air conditioning, claiming they could not alter the setting without checking with corporate headquarters.
When it was apparent my friend had difficulty breathing, he was offered a refund - but everyone else felt uncomfortable as well - this was on a day during a heat wave of high heat & humidity. It took a series of much vigorous complaining for the entire party to get a refund - no one felt comfortable enough to eat. (Management claimed they could not issue a refund without receipts - which they would have tossed from the tables when the party switched seats - they only did so when confronted with one of the party's debit card receipts; she had paid for 7 of the 9 persons.)
This morning, my friend collapsed from apparent dehydration and had to go to the emergency room at Jeanes Hospital - probably what had happened Sunday night had contributed to this episode. Due to the substandard operating conditions that day, they apparently were more interested in making a buck at the expense of the staff and any unwary patrons, who were trying to celebrate Father's Day by having a nice meal. In my opinion, this establishment should be investigated by the Department of Health and OSHA for unsafe conditions.
You can be sure that it will be a cold day in Hades (no pun intended even though the conditions sounded like a training ground for Hades) before I or my friends will patronize this establishment without drastic remedial actions are taken by this restaurant.
GREENFIELD, WISCONSIN -- This pertains to the Old Country Buffet restaurant at 4902 S. 74th Street in Greenfield, Wisconsin. I have eaten there frequently over the years, at least once or twice monthly. Several times I have had complaints about the food being room temp or even undercooked, and I always have to deal with at least 2 or 3 employees and managers before I finally reach someone who is professional and addresses my complaint. It is clear to me that they are trained to discourage complaints by making the complaint process as uncomfortable as possible for the customer.
This time the fried chicken was a pinkish grey throughout most of the meat, and it was rubbery. I don't eat the skin or breading, so it wasn't till I realized it was undercooked that I noticed the skin was typical of undercooked chicken and the consistency of the breading wasn't right. Most people know when they're biting into undercooked chicken. I was in food service myself for several years, and I know undercooked chicken.
After maneuvering through the indifferent bureaucracy again, never receiving any apology or expression of concern for my safety or well-being, this time I went to the Buffets Inc. company itself. The first customer relations person I spoke with, Lisa, was just as nonchalant and did not apologize or ask if I suffered any illness or discomfort over the chicken. She offered me a discount certificate.
I asked to speak with a supervisor, because I did not buy my meal with a discount certificate. I paid full price, and I expected resolution at full price. The supervisor, who called himself Brent, basically called me a liar and argued with me. Brent had no first-hand information, because he did not conduct a first-hand investigation.
He simply said the store manager told him that the chicken bone wasn't broken and all the chicken temped right. Neither Brent nor his mythical store manager knew the date or time of the incident, nor whether the piece was a drum, wing, thigh or breast, nor any other detail. But Brent magically knew that the bone wasn't broken and the chicken temped right.
Brent refused to address my complaint. I have filed complaints with the appropriate health and consumer agencies. The problem is that these agencies let businesses know in advance when they will inspect the operation, so the managers have time to make sure everything looks good for the inspectors. And investigations can take weeks or even months.
Worst of all, in Wisconsin the investigation results are not released in any public warning notice as they would be in some other States. That's why we've had some of the nation's worst food poisoning cases in Wisconsin. So more people can be victimized because they don't even know of the problem. I will never eat there again, nor at any other Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet, Hometown Buffet, or any other Buffets Inc. restaurant.