All-you-can-eat buffets are a great way to go out with friends or family and make sure everyone can eat what they want. They often have an assortment of different cuisines, and nobody is going to leave still hungry.
Working at an all-you-can-eat buffet is not always as eating at one, however. Below you will find some particularly striking horror stories from those working at buffets and the customers they had to deal with.
Reddit user u/Tristanmemes123 asked:
Not a "Horror" story, just funny.
I worked at Wendy's when they had salad bars. You could get a single-serving bowl (They used to serve eat-in chili in Styrofoam bowls, and the Large doubled as a chili bowl), or "All you can eat" platters. (The Taco Salad bottom plate.)
On a slow afternoon, this guy came in and got a single serving bowl. After a few minutes, our manager motioned to me and the sandwich guy to discreetly take a look at the salad he was making.
The guy had filled the bowl with salad, then made a ring of overlapping cucumber slices to extend the lip of the bowl upwards. He filled that with salad, then added another ring. It took several minutes to build this thing, but by the time he'd finished, he had a tower of salad well over a foot tall, wth multiple rings of cucumber slices containing it.
That salad was an engineering marvel. He carefully carried it back to his table, sat down, then looked up guiltily as our manager walked out to him.
The manager handed him a "free item" coupon, and said, "That is the most impressive salad I have ever seen. Your next one is on me."
I worked at a pizza buffet for 2 years during collage. I have a number of stories, but the one that i will always remember is the guy who got super upset that we wouldn't make more dessert pizza, when we were half an hour past closing time.
This guy comes in with his presumed wife and 2 children around 8:30. We close at 9. Nothing out of the ordinary happens until 9 rolls around, where it was still commonplace for people to be finishing up and eating what pizza was still left. I was doing the dishes and taking the empty dishes back from the buffet and i see this guy, arms crossed and staring at me as i take the empty dessert pizza dish. He says something to the effect of "whens the next one coming out, i never got any" I let him know that we close at 9 and we cant really make anything past then because the oven gets shut off. Luckily the manager overheard this and stepped in to back me up and I quickly scamper off to the back to continue the dishes. He seamed pissed, but it wasn't unheard of, as being a cheep pizza buffet, you don't exactly bring in the most affluent of folks. About 5 min later, as I'm finishing up the plates, the same manager comes barreling through the back door, out of breath. He grabs 2 of the long wooden pizza pushers, and says come with me. I have no idea whats going on, but i grab the pusher and follow him out the door. I learned later on, that he started flipping out, throwing the register and a fishbowl. He grabbed a broom and swung that around, hitting the girl behind the counter. this bit we caught on camera.
As I exit from the back this guy is screaming and ranting unintelligibly. He was just asking for a fight. He walked up to the manager got all up in his face and kinda choke pushed him back. He came at me next and i was really really close to taking a swing at his knees or something but the other manager had quickly gotten back up and he resumed harassing him. After about 2 min of tip-toeing around a brawl, and his wife presumably screaming for him to get back in the car, he eventually gets in and they drive off. I won't forget the glossed over look in his eyes as he came after me.
Freaks me out to this day.
Watched a man at the ponderosa walk up to the buffet without a plate, untuck his t-shirt, pull the hem up to form a basket, reach into the steam tray of chicken wings with his bare hand and just load up on hot wings in his makeshift shirtbucket. The woman in the kitchen was like "please sir, could you use a plate. Or just tongs?"
Guy scoffed and looked at her like she'd asked him to don a tuxedo.
Family was gone and i saw their dirty plates with napkins crumpled on top so of course i clean it up and bus the plates, 15 mins later they come back and the mom starts yelling at me in spanish so i get my co worker to translate and basically her daughter's retainers were in the napkins and i already threw them away.
She kept complaining about how they were $250+ so I literally had to dig thru a huge trashcan full of a sludge of food and drinks for 15 minutes . But fortunately i found them and the daughter thanked me and she seemed embarrassed that her mom made me dig thru the trash.
College friend worked at a chinese buffet. He said they caught a regular dipping his pizza in the wonton soup bowl (like, in the queue and not at his table) and eating it. Bite, dip, bite, dip, bite, dip.
After the fourth time in a month he did it management finally kicked him out.
I was once at an Old Country Buffet, waiting patiently to get some Mac & Cheese. The kid in front of me plied his plate high, and then started tapping the serving spoon to get all of the chessy goodness free from the confines of the spoon. Once he was satisfied with his handiwork, he licked the spoon clean. I didn't have any Mac & Cheese, and haven't been back since.
Not a worker - but I went to HomeTown Buffet and the kid in front of me was slightly shorter than the buffet bar but had his hands in the yellow jello - just massaging it. Then his mom came by and snatched him away but didn't say anything while a guy came and made himself a bowl of jello. 10 yr-old me was too appalled to say anything. I haven't eaten jello since then....
Not an employee, but a customer.
A long time ago, my mom and I picked up a friend of hers and we went to a local Chinese food buffet. This place had a thing where you could get a pound of food for $5 in a takeout container instead of sitting and eating at the restaurant if you want, so that was our plan.
The three of us were browsing around the buffet line with our takeout containers, adding what we wanted to them... and then I noticed my mom's friend doing something extremely disgusting.
He was eating a chicken wing. Like, right in front of the buffet line, hiding his face behind his takeout container. And then he took the chicken bone and put it back in the buffet tray.
I walked over to my mom and told her what he was doing, and at first she thought I was joking. So she walked over towards him and now he was standing there eating a slice of watermelon right off the buffet, and then putting the rind back in the tray.
So my mom is like "What the f*** are you doing!?" and he's like "Don't worry, I do this all the time! They never notice!".
So of course both me and mom are panicking, worried that they're gonna call the cops or something because of this disphit. We basically pretended to not know him and continued to fill up our containers the right way.
After a couple minutes, one of the employees walks up to my mom and tells her that they noticed what the guy was doing, and they noticed that we were also uncomfortable about it and didn't intend to blame us. But they warned her that if she doesn't get him to pay for the food in his container and leave immediately, they'll be calling the police.
So of course mom tells him that we need to go. Now. And he just brushes it off like "I don't care. They're not gonna do anything!"
Well, me and mom walked up to the front, paid for our containers, apologized, and walked out and left him in there. A minute later, you can see and hear him shouting with the staff. He throws his container on the ground and food splatters everywhere. He storms out, shouting insults as he leaves, and of course gives them a "I'm never coming back!", to which they reply "You're not allowed in here no more! We'll call the cops!"
So we're standing out by the car, waiting for him. Of course, we yell at him for being a piece of garbage. We get in the car and the next thing you know, this jerk starts pulling chicken wings and chinese donuts out of his freaking pockets and eating them.
We dropped him off at home and never spoke to him again.
Picked up some fish and chips recently. Saw they had "all you can eat" on Wednesdays.
So I asked "What is the most that someone...."
"18 pieces of fish and 3 plates (she held up this huge platter) of fries......every....single.....Wednesday."
"So he eats that exact order every week?"
"Yes, and he goes to a different 'all you can eat' every day of the week. He got banned from the Chinese place down the road."
Buffet where I live got shut down for serving coyote meat and labeling it as other meats
So I work in an 'all you can eat' using tablets. This is (according to my boss) based on a Japanese kind of restaurant. We serve (mostly) asian food, from Chinese to Japanese and even some Korean.
The premise is that people order their food in rounds and we then bring the food to their table when it is ready. We always warn customers before hand that, if they leave food behind, because they ordered too much, they will have to pay extra. Depending on what they left behind.
We have seen people try the weirdest stuff if it comes to not paying extra; people dumping food in their handbags, to people shoving it in their mouths then go to the toilet and flush it, to putting hair on it and blaming us for it (we see them pull this stuff), etc.
And when we actually catch them doing it, they blame us for it and refuse to pay. Some people let it come down to the police to sort it out sometimes, there have been multiple occasions on which they were involved to solve the problem for just €5,-. I guess some people's greed has no extend.
Worked in a buffet restaurant for a few weeks a while back. It was fairly common to see people do disgusting things like sneeze in the food or just poke their fingers in things like sauces to taste them. Even saw one guy literally drop a slice of pizza on the floor and after awkwardly looking around, he put it right back.
Brought it up a couple of times, but the restaurant wasn't doing well, and we were told that we couldn't accept the losses to start throwing "good" food out.
I had a co-worker that briefly managed a Ryan's buffet. He said that it was fairly common for people to gorge themselves, then purge in the restroom and start eating again so that they could "get their money's worth".
My parents owned an all you can eat buffet and I was there every day of my life from 4-14. My favorite horror story is when a couple came in to eat (obviously). They loveeed the crab legs and every time my mom put some out, they took it ALL. Also, just a reminder, crab legs are expensive! Forget the other customers, they just took it and ate it all. So they're there for maybe 2 hours now and it's getting dark. They've eaten through at least a week's stock of crab legs and my mom finally decides it's enough. She stops putting it out in the buffet and brings individual plates to the customers who wanted it but couldn't get any due to this couple.
The couple is angry. They literally flipped the chairs at their table, flipped their plates, bowls, cups, etc and completely trashed their area. Food was all over the floor, table, chairs. Sticky soda was dripping into the carpet.
They left in a hurry, but someone caught their license plate. We called the cops and I think they said they charged them with something? I can't remember the aftermath details clearly, because I was probably 8 or 9 years old (20 now). I just remember looking at the mess and feeling really angry that my sister and I had to clean it up with our mom. It was a family run business, so we didn't have much help.
Anyways, that's my horror story. The end.
At one point myself and 2 other family members worked at a Golden Corral (each in different sections) because small towns don't have a lot of job options for high school/college kids.
I worked in the bakery which was surprisingly low in horror stories other than the chaos the remained after a large group of children came through.
My brother worked the steak station. He got these regulars that would tip him pretty well if he would prepare blue steaks for them. The very idea of ordering blue steaks from a buffet makes me gag.
My cousin worked the salad bar. Management would require her to keep seafood items on the bar for long after the point where they'd be safe to consume. I think the record was chilled shrimp from Mother's day that stayed for over a week and a half. They finally caved and let her toss them when a customer complained about the smell.
Went as a customer to a golden corral. Im walking to the chocolate fountain and 3 little girls step in front of me, and all 3 of them just go hands deep in the fountain. The family was the first table by the fountain and all they did was laugh about how cute it was.. Employees turned it off immediately.
A woman came in with two of her kids, and had a pretty regular meal. You pay when you leave at our place, and she decided to sneak out with her younger daughter before paying, leaving her underage son alone at the table.
We caught on pretty quick and sent someone after her, who found her in her car in the parking garage, waiting for her son to come as well. She refused to come back in and pay, so we had to keep her son 'hostage' until the police came to handle the situation. What some people will do to their kids, I swear.
I bus at a slightly nicer resteraunt. On Fridays and Sundays we offer a prime rib and crab leg buffet, among a salad bar, hot and cold entrées, and a desert bar. It's honestly pretty nice and our buffet runner keeps anyone from doing ungodly things to the buffet.
But the one incident that will always stand out to me was when this family of five came in. From the moment they came in to the moment they left, they ate as many crab legs as they possibly could. Their server and I were clearing plates off as fast as we could. But every time we would return it seemed like another mountain of crab leg shells would appear in front of each member of that family.
I know not how they ate so much and I honestly can't recall if they are anything besides the crab. Piles upon piles of shells were left upon the table after they left. It was truly a sight to behold.
What's more is after I wiped down the table and came back with settings, I had to get another rag to wipe down the table again because something in the crab leg juice combined with our sanitizer and left a nice milky residue upon the table. Delicious.
When I leave this job I'll never be able to look at crab legs the same way.
My first job was as a dishwasher in an all you can eat fried catfish buffet.
People are animals. Especially the ones that get far more food off the buffet than they can eat. Then they take the left overs and pile them on a plate or tray, cover in ketchup and tartar sauce, then pour their iced tea over the top of all that.
A lot of people did that got at least two plates like that a night.
Years ago, I worked at an all-you-can-eat country buffet in South Carolina. I was a busboy.
One day, I went to a table. It was a mess, as per usual. It looked to be a large family/group of families of around 12 people or so.
The thing that stuck it in my memory is that whenever they had finished with what they were going to eat, they would scrape their plate and use it again.
Scrape their plates... onto the floor next to their chairs.
So next to each chair, there was a 6inch to 18 inch pile of chicken bones, crab legs, mashed potatoes, remnants of backed potatoes, etc.