Due to the lack of traffic Ecoustics has been experiencing I'd like to share my recent dinning experience at my local Golden Corral in Berlin NJ. The restaurant chain has been making progress and expanding their national exposure and just last year opened up another facility within a 10 minute's drive of me. Many of you may be familiar with the mostly Southern popular chain and some may have never heard of it. Either way, thanks for reading.
For those who don't know Golden Corral is an all you can eat buffet style restaurant. They boast a wide selection of food at a reasonable price. They've included many foods from multiple cultures. American, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, ect. They serve fish, pasta, chicken, pizza, steak, ect and have a salad and dessert bar. They cover most of the vegetables you'd ever want and even offer take home rates by the pound in convenient containers.
Ok, here is where the commercial ends. I didn't even feel right typing it^^^^.
This is the reality of a Golden Corral experience, should you decide to try it:
After negotiating the parking lot trying desperately to avoid running kids and limping, bloated adults you find your parking spot. You wonder to yourself why you see everyone briskly walking from their cars to the front door. You think "maybe they need to use the restroom?". Sadly no. They are regulars who know how the place works and are about to add an additional 5 minutes to your wait. When you get to the front door the reality smacks you in the face. There are 35 people snaked in a congo line corralled in their velvet rope of a prison. "Oh man I don't know guys. This looks insane." "But Dad I REALLY want to try their dessert bar." You simply can't deny your 9 year old daughter of that can you?
So 15 minutes or so in line is what it takes to get to the beverage area. The kids are already filling their kiddy cups that come with their dinner buffet. You look for the adult cups with no success. What you DO see is their $2.39 plastic refillable cup, your only option. So that's screw #1. Naturally all the ice machines are dead out. That may be directly related to every 6 year old over filling their cups with ice and dumping it into the drains........twice. Must be fun, I don't see the appeal. Parents are oblivious, they have the chicken teriyaki in their heads.
So you finally get to the cashier. You've already invested 20 minutes of your time and are about to be vindicated by the glorious and infamous all you can eat buffet at the Golden Corral!! It must be worth it right? Reality #2 smacks you again when, after paying, you must wait in yet another line. The "to be seated" line. You can clearly see all the commotion and people scrambling to get their eat on. It almost turns you off. Ok, it does turn you off. Those lucky enough to be given the green light and have a table are presently picking off the serving tables like a swarm of piranhas taking advantage of a cow trying to cross their river. It's bad. I mean really bad. Ever see a turkey buzzard on the side of the road clearing it of a squirrel carcass? Damn thing would rather take a hit from a car than leave its' food. Hold on, we haven't even sat down yet!
So you've made it past the beverage counter and paid your dues to the cashier, waited your time in the "to be seated" line and have been escorted to a table. NOW THE FUN BEGINS! I hug my kids goodbye as it may very well be the last time I see them as I give them permission to "hit the floor". Slang for "go get yours before it's gone". Your first trip around with plate in hand is like a military reconnaissance mission. You're not ready to dive in yet, you just want to see what you're up against. Fried chicken is gone. Shrimp also. In fact the only edible meat left is in the "make your own taco" section. First mission awards you with a scoop of mashed potatoes, a shriveled up ¼ stick of corn on the cob, a few steak fries and some mac and cheese. They ALWAYS have mac and cheese. It's like their god or something.
You sit down and try and forget about what you saw in the tv commercials, just to calm your nerves over spending $12.39 for warm Dr Pepper, taters, corn, a few fries and mac and cheese. My son filled his plate with what looked like $1 store pizza. My daughter came back with two strawberries and some rice. Yeah, THAT made me feel better. We all eat and I see out of the corner of my eye a wave of very large people approaching the serving trays. They were replenishing the chicken!!! It was as if they had that area scoped out and were on watch, waiting for THAT time to strike. Many over 300 lbs, some even had a cane or a walker. I kinda felt bad for those in walkers at first. Then I remember reading seniors had a discounted rate. SCREW them! I got up in a frenzy, confident I was going to score some meat today for me and my kids, in my visit to the infamous Golden Corral. I was going home a man and a winner, one way or another!
Left my kids behind at the table as I knew I wouldn't see another opportunity in probably 20 minutes. I grabbed a fresh plate and headed in. The chaos was unbelievable. The carnage was everywhere. In what seemed like 10 minutes later proved to be more like 24 seconds. The chicken was gone. I was still 4 deep and never had a chance. I was defeated. The victors walked away with plates piled 3 and 4 high of chicken wings, fried chicken, boneless chicken and chicken tenders. All with childlike smiles on their faces.
I sat back down with my kids sipping my warm Dr Pepper........sulking and accepting my Golden Corral defeat, staring at my receipt. "Go get Daddy's money worth out of the dessert bar kids. Please, we need to go soon". Yeah. That would satisfy me. Go and fill up on junk, seeing as they didn't have anything else to fill up on. They came back with what was supposed to be ice cream but was more like a science experiment in chocolate and vanilla colored...........................I don't know, I don't have a word for it. It was edible so I guess it passes. I threatened my daughter not to even think about the chocolate fountain. As inviting as it seems it is so exposed to human exposure it's not funny. Even watched several kids place strawberries in it, lick the "chocolate" off and kept dipping it in. Again and again. How this is considered sanitary I have no clue.
So we gather ourselves and get ready to head out the door. Just then a waiter pops in and asks if we need anything. "Need anything? Are you kidding me? We've been here for 30 minutes and you show up now?"
"Get your jackets on kids. We're done."
As we make our way to the door through the labyrinth of people and staff, I noticed they are bringing out more replenishments of mac and cheese and mashed potatoes, yet while the chicken, steak and fish are still gone. They will always be gone. At least the rice, salad and tacos will still hold up. Not too many Chinese or Mexicans in house tonight I suppose. Then again their food is relatively cheap so why pay Golden Corral $13 for what you can get for $3??? Not stereotyping the food people eat at all. Just saying. Americans like the expensive stuff so buffets fit their bill.
We make it into my truck, all strapped in. Heading off to my ex to drop off my daughter. Not having that great of a day and dropping $30 on this visit wasn't going to make me feel any better. Then, out of the back came the quote of the day"
"Dad, I'm still hungry."