The eight most egregious sins you can commit at an all-you-can-eat buffet

The eight most egregious sins you can commit at an all-you-can-eat buffet

This has been a helluva week for buffets, what with a guy in Wisconsin picketing a restaurant that cut him off from an all-you-can-eat fish fry, and a Chinese buffet in the U.K. where management has instituted a new policy of "clean your effin plates or get charged $20." Do people eat like hogs at buffets and waste too much food?

My answer to those questions would be yes and yes --- but not all people are wasteful hogs, just the ones who will never accept that there is actual social etiquette to eating at buffets. For well-meaning but ignorant diners who can still be trained, here's my list of the eight most egregious sins you can commit at an all-you-can-eat buffet:

The eight most egregious sins you can commit at an all-you-can-eat buffet

8. Thou shalt not steal your meal.

I've seen my fair share of "plate-splitters" and "My kids will eat free because I'll feed them off my plate" people, and here's the deal: Eating things you don't pay for when you are supposed to pay is stealing. While plenty of folks don't see it that way, the food, drinks, staffing, power, maintenance and roof overhead all cost money, and buffet restaurants ain't soup kitchens. Customers who "split" plates at a buffet usually eat and drink more than they think they do, and even one plate and beverage is a meal. Buffets charge nominal prices for children, and so being sneaky and stuffing your kid(s) for free means that you are setting a rotten example for them, while declining to pay the few bucks to help pay the people who have to clean up after your little angel's fishstick and macaroni-hurling sprees.

7. Thou shalt not sully the community food.

Most buffets are set up like giant troughs with cold and hot bins, but that's no excuse for behaving like filthy swine. Use clean plates and bowls, keep your digits out of the shared grub -- I've seen folks "taste-testing" dishes by plunging fingers and/or silverware into things and licking them -- and if you want to try something, put a sample-sized portion on a plate and wait until you get to the table to try it. Don't eat while you are in line getting food -- crumbs from your mouth and fingers may drop into the food, and I'm sure YOU don't want to eat other people's fingernail guck and beard-leavins'. And for the love of our Lord Satan, please keep your spawn from roaming the place, fingering the ice cream toppings and dripping soft-serve onto the carpet for people to step in.

The eight most egregious sins you can commit at an all-you-can-eat buffet

6. Thou shalt not commit single-item hoarding.

When one person dumps an entire bin of crab legs onto multiple plates and hauls the entire load back to the table, everyone else in the restaurant has to then wait for the staff to prepare and bring more. When a single person takes every single grilled steak, every single peel-and-eat shrimp or all of the rice pudding, that diner is negating the concept of the buffet itself: You can go back as many times as you please, so depriving every other diner of a particular dish is not only rude, it's illogical.


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