The long lines are back at Assembly Line Buffet, the spacious restaurant at MotorCity Casino Hotel.
Buffets have long been as much a part of a casino as 25-cent slots, an inexpensive way to feed late-night gamblers, but all-you-can-eat events – and restaurants designed for them – have fallen by the wayside. water since the pandemic struck. A few mainstays are back, including the popular casino restaurant, and diners are back for fried and baked chicken, sushi rolls and chilled shrimp, mashed potatoes and cabbage, and more. Again.
The scene at the assembly line seemed relatively normal on a recent weekend as guests paraded past tables, stacking their plates.
“I missed the buffet,” Sterling Heights’ James Meyers said last weekend as he walked straight to the carving station, where a line of people waited for a piece of ham or a slice of beef. . “I was a regular here and I love Mexican nights.”
The buffet reopened last month, but the Mexican Night, German Brew Night, Seafood Night and other themed occasions are not yet back, according to the casino. And, for now, the restaurant closes at 10 p.m.
Things were a little quieter on the weekend dining scene at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino & Hotel, where the Palette Dining Studio, which housed its buffet before the pandemic, remains closed. The casino launched a new weekend buffet at the Tap Sports Pub about a month ago. Inside, a few tables have been set with stainless steel stoves of slices of cinnamon and vanilla French toast, spinach and mushroom frittata, chicken sausage, and a few other items for $ 22. The eight offerings on the menu were a far cry from the pre-pandemic manna at the much more spacious Palette across the rec room. And the self-serve buffet and waffle iron are only available at breakfast.
Over the past weekend, restaurant staff walked around, vigorously wiping tables, chairs and most visible surfaces every few minutes, but one guest said COVID protocols were not enough for him.
“They have to disinfect these tongs,” said Dorothy Allen of Southfield, grabbing serving utensils to stack fried potatoes on her plate. “Also, the tables need to be spaced so people aren’t on top of each other,” she said, waiting for another guest to hand her the spoon to collect the scrambled eggs. She said the coronavirus made her nervous, but filled her plate while others waited behind her.
Things are also different from the original business model of Golden Corral, the “largest buffet grill chain in the country”, although offerings vary depending on location. In some places the buffet is served as a cafeteria. In Westland and Clinton Township, gloves are available at nearly every station and serving utensils are replaced every 20 minutes. Want something specific? Call ahead to check availability. Take-out and delivery are now available, which is obviously not at will. Instead, individual roast or meatloaf meals include generous portions, with two sides and a yeast roll.
In the dining room, the chain has cordoned off the famous chocolate fountains for the first time, and workers are dipping fruit for diners to avoid overcrowding and improve sanitation.
Golden Corral may have reopened, but in the metro area, buffet-style restaurants were among the first to close permanently and not reopen, as salad bars and shared serving spoons could be hard to sell during a pandemic. China Buffet in Southfield and Fortune Buffet in Livonia have closed and there have been discounts at China Palace in Ypsilanti. The soda maker has been replaced with a freezer of individual ice cream cups, dim sum is ordered from a menu instead of being taken out of a cart now, and the hibachi has been discarded.
In Sterling Heights, all 10 tables at Hibachi Buffet, including the ice cream station, are open for dinner buffets, but keep in mind that the restaurant is temporarily closed on Tuesdays. When asked what other than the hours have changed at the buffet since the pandemic, one worker replied “nothing.”
All you can eat
Assembly Line Buffet at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit offers salads, meats, pasta, seafood, desserts, and a carving station. Open every day from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
China Palace’s Pan-Asian buffet for Cantonese and Japanese dishes also offers dim sum. Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Wednesday to Monday. 2905 Washtenaw Avenue, Ypsilanti.
The Hibachi Buffet’s dinner menu includes prime rib, crayfish, frog legs, New York striploin, squid, salmon and shrimp. Open six days. 33431 Van Dyke Avenue, Sterling Heights.
Imaginate’s Sunday brunch boujee includes cheese groats, fruit parfaits, salmon lox bagels, chicken and waffles, salmon benedict, catfish and oatmeal, a steak sizzler, a seafood omelet, candied bacon, tasty sausages, homemade fried potatoes, onion soup, tomato bisque soup, fig salad, grilled Caesar salad, roasted salmon, avocado toast and feeder bananas. 401 S avenue Lafayette, Royal Oak.
The Tap Sports Bar at MGM Grand Detroit offers a weekend breakfast buffet that includes French toast, a waffle station, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit, and a spinach and mushroom frittata. 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.