These Buffet Restaurant Chains Have Closed Locations Permanently

Closeup of a Fried Chicken Buffet Bar Self-Serve Catering with Tongs, Four Buckets with Matching Tongs


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Closeup of a Fried Chicken Buffet Bar Self-Serve Catering with Tongs, Four Buckets with Matching Tongs

Stick a Fork in ’Em

It may be the end of an era for one of America’s favorite places to fill up and then some: the buffet. For obvious reasons, buffet restaurants were hit hard by the pandemic, but many of the most well-known all-you-can-eat joints in the United States were already suffering before COVID-19. Here's a look at all the once-mighty buffet chains that have recently closed locations or disappeared altogether.

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Front and Side Exterior of Old Country Buffet, Chicago Ridge, Illinois, Drive-Through in the Foreground
Matt Y./Yelp

Old Country Buffet

Sorry, Old Country Buffet fans: Your favorite haunt for cheese biscuits is no more. This once-ubiquitous buffet was among the chains that shuttered as a result of parent company Fresh Acquisition’s bankruptcy in 2021. Old Country Buffet has a new owner, BBQ Holdings, but executives there say they have no plans to breathe new life into the once-extensive chain, which was down to just under 17 locations from hundreds at the beginning of 2019, according to Mashed. Feeling nostalgic? Check out this old Old Country Buffet training video.

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Top Front Exterior of Golden Corral Buffet & Grill, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Golden Corral

The nation’s most recognizable buffet chain survived COVID-19, but not without some serious damage. As of early April 2021, only about 290 of the chain’s pre-pandemic 490 restaurants were open, according to Restaurant Business, though it was unclear how many of those closings would be permanent. Two of the largest Golden Corral franchisees filed for bankruptcy since the pandemic began, and one of them shut down 16 locations permanently. Sales at the chain were down 62% in 2020.

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Front Exterior of Sweet Tomatoes, Las Vegas, Closed But Clean, Surrounded By Sidewalk
Ethan Miller/Staff/Getty Images

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes

Lunch buffet fans lost the place where they could slurp soup, get their greens, and indulge in endless bread and soft serve in March 2020, when Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes shut their doors. Hit hard by the pandemic, parent company Garden Fresh Restaurants subsequently filed for bankruptcy, opting to liquidate all of the sister chains’ 97 locations. Still in mourning? You can buy the iconic soup bowl on Amazon.

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Front and Side Exterior of Cicis, Beyond Pizza Restaurant, Statesville, North Carolina, Brick Building, Two People Opening the Front Door Going Inside
J. Michael Jones/istockphoto


One of the nation’s foremost all-you-can-eat pizza chains emerged from the pandemic significantly smaller. Cicis, where you can famously down all the Mac & Cheese pizza, pasta salad, and cinnamon rolls you can handle for as little as $6, emerged from bankruptcy in 2020 with under 300 locations, down from the 420 it had at the end of 2019. The chain’s new owners hope to turn things around with more of a focus on delivery.

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Side Exterior of Luby's, Houston, Parking Spaces in the Foreground, One White SUV Parked to the Right
Lou C./Yelp


This cafeteria-style buffet has a long, storied history in its home state of Texas. The first Luby’s opened in the ’40s, and the chain ballooned to more than 200 locations in the mid-’90s. Like several other closed buffet chains, though, its store count dwindled in recent years as fast-casual dining started to dominate. Sadly, in 2020, the pandemic-battered company announced plans to liquidate, and closed all locations by June 2022.

Grannie's Country Cookin' Restaurant Logo on a Yellow Shirt
Grannie's Country Cookin' Restaurant Logo on a Yellow Shirt by raymondclarkeimages (CC BY-NC)

Country Cookin’

A Virginia staple since the ’70s, Country Cookin’ offered down-home favorites such as country fried steak and cornbread, but homey grub alone couldn’t save it from the pandemic. All 13 locations closed permanently in late 2020, with company officials attributing the decision to rising food and operational costs even once restaurants had reopened from their initial COVID-19 shutdowns.

Front Exterior of an Abandoned Building for the HomeTown Buffet Restaurant, Montclair, California, Previous Sign Faintly Imprinted on It

HomeTown Buffet

Like Old Country Buffet, this all-you-can-eat haunt serving up comfort food fare used to be among the nation’s biggest buffet chains. But it, too, was already struggling, and was ultimately brought down for good in parent company Fresh Acquisition’s bankruptcy. Its new owner, BBQ Holdings, is also declining to bring it back.

Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans on a Plate, Ryan's Bar and Grill, Corydon, Indiana, with Iced Tea and Rolls
Exterior Sign of Furr's Family Dining, Lubbock, Texas, Top Exterior of Building
JCC L./Yelp


Furr’s, which began as a cafeteria in the ’40s, was owned by another ill-fated chain, Kmart, in the 1980s. By the time the pandemic hit, it had only 16 locations in four states. Though there may still be hope for a reimagined Furr’s to emerge as an “all-you-can-eat marketplace,” there’s little evidence that any locations survived the Fresh Acquisitions bankruptcy.

Side Exterior of Fire Mountain, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Parking Spaces in the Foreground with Two Cars Parked on the Middle and Right
Dan R./Yelp

Fire Mountain

This grilling-focused buffet chain is the final domino to fall in the Fresh Acquisitions bankruptcy. Like its sister chains, it was in deep trouble before the pandemic hit, and Google News was full of stories detailing the abrupt closings of local restaurants.

Interior Pizza Buffet Area with Different Pizzas, Pizza Inn, Jackson, Missouri, Two Rows of Seating with People Seated and Eating
Alex M./Yelp

Pizza Inn

This buffet chain serving endless pizza, salad, and dessert has been going strong for more than 60 years and still has dozens of restaurants spread across the South. But its footprint has shrunk: Parent company Rave Restaurant Group operated 155 Pizza Inns at the end of 2019, but the Pizza Inn website shows only about 140 locations open currently.

Front and Side Exterior of Sizzler, Ontario, California, During Sunset
Bryce M./Yelp
Buffet Food Area Line, K&W Cafeteria, Raleigh, North Carolina, a Few People Being Served Food By Workers Behind the Buffet Counter
Ron W./Yelp
Top Front Exterior of Pizza Hut, Santa Fe, White Building with Red Accents

Pizza Hut

You may not think “buffet” when you think Pizza Hut, and that’s exactly what the company wants. Pizza Hut’s dine-in restaurants, most of which feature menu service and an all-you-can eat buffet, used to be the cornerstone of the chain, but they’re quickly fading into oblivion. Hundreds of dine-in Pizza Huts closed from 2019 through 2020, continuing a renewed focus on takeout and delivery. Yum! Brands says more closings are likely in the future, too.

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Front Exterior of Ponderosa Steakhouse, Clare, Michigan, a Car Parked in a Handicapped Parking Space in the Foreground and Small Garden
Alice K./Yelp


Ponderosa (or Bonanza, depending on your region) was a Western-themed buffet that served up slabs of meat, veggies, and chicken wings with equal aplomb. Like many of the chains on this list, it was in steady decline before the pandemic, its restaurants dwindling to 75 by 2019 from more than 300, according to Vox. Since then, its footprint has shrunk even further, with no locations for either Ponderosa or Bonanza listed on the website.

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Front Exterior of Gatti's Pizza, Richardson, Texas, Slight Looking Up Towards, Sidewalk
Mark C. L./Yelp


Yet another pizza buffet that’s had a rough go of it, Gatti’s is primarily a Southern chain that prides itself on freshness, and most locations have game rooms to draw in kids. Still, it couldn’t escape market forces, and Gatti’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in early 2019, a decision that spurred an undisclosed number of closings.